New species of parasitic mushrooms found on Twitter

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Oddly enough, some people upload not only selfies and pets to the Internet. So, a few months ago, professor of the Museum of Natural History at the University of Copenhagen, Ana Reboleira, leafed through her Twitter subscription feed and looked at a macro photo of the millipede, which was taken and laid out by her U.S. counterpart Derek Hennen.

The scientist’s experienced eye was attracted by the characteristic small dots seen on the chitinous shell of the animal.

One of the directions of her work is connected with the study of labulbeniomycetes – a class of fungi that includes more than 2000 known species, the vast majority of which are external arthropod parasites. “Until now, these mushrooms have not been found on millipedes living in America, ” Reboleira says . “So I showed the picture to my colleagues, and then together we went to the museum collections and started looking.”

The entomological collection of the Danish Museum of Natural History is one of the largest in the world and includes several million representatives of about 100 thousand species. It is not surprising that among them there were many American millipedes, and on some – mushrooms, still unnoticed by biologists. A new type of parasitic labulbeniomycetes is described in an article published in the journal MycoKeys .

The authors attributed the fungi to the genus Troglomyces . Unlike ordinary aspirations to fix in the name the name of the discoverer or his idol or an outstanding feature of the species itself, the name of these mushrooms reflects the history of their discovery – Troglomyces twitter . According to scientists, these parasites infect the reproductive organs of millipedes, fixing themselves on the chitinous cover and growing inside specialized cells.

Labulbeniomycetes have been known for a long time, but species parasitizing on millipedes have been studied only since the 2010s. According to Professor Reboleira, today about 30 such mushrooms are known. Obviously, this is only a drop in the sea of ​​not yet discovered species, which not only field expeditions and museum collections will help find, but now also social networks.

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