Parasites of parasites of bats: Laboulbeniales (Fungi: Ascomycota) on bat flies (Diptera: Nycteribiidae) in central Europe

Danny Haelewaters*, Walter P. Pfliegler, Tamara Szentiványi, Mihály Földvári, Attila D. Sándor, Levente Barti, Jasmin J. Camacho, Gerrit Gort, Péter Estók, Thomas Hiller, Carl W. Dick, Donald H. Pfister

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Bat flies (Streblidae and Nycteribiidae) are among the most specialized families of the order Diptera. Members of these two related families have an obligate ectoparasitic lifestyle on bats, and they are known disease vectors for their hosts. However, bat flies have their own ectoparasites: fungi of the order Laboulbeniales. In Europe, members of the Nycteribiidae are parasitized by four species belonging to the genus Arthrorhynchus. We carried out a systematic survey of the distribution and fungus-bat fly associations of the genus in central Europe (Hungary, Romania). Results: We encountered the bat fly Nycteribia pedicularia and the fungus Arthrorhynchus eucampsipodae as new country records for Hungary. The following bat-bat fly associations are for the first time reported: Nycteribia kolenatii on Miniopterus schreibersii, Myotis blythii, Myotis capaccinii and Rhinolophus ferrumequinum; Penicillidia conspicua on Myotis daubentonii; and Phthiridium biarticulatum on Myotis capaccinii. Laboulbeniales infections were found on 45 of 1,494 screened bat flies (3.0%). We report two fungal species: Arthrorhynchus eucampsipodae on Nycteribia schmidlii, and A. nycteribiae on N. schmidlii, Penicillidia conspicua, and P. dufourii. Penicillidia conspicua was infected with Laboulbeniales most frequently (25%, n = 152), followed by N. schmidlii (3.1%, n = 159) and P. dufourii (2.0%, n = 102). Laboulbeniales seem to prefer female bat fly hosts to males. We think this might be due to a combination of factors: female bat flies have a longer life span, while during pregnancy female bat flies are significantly larger than males and accumulate an excess of fat reserves. Finally, ribosomal DNA sequences for A. nycteribiae are presented. Conclusions: We screened ectoparasitic bat flies from Hungary and Romania for the presence of ectoparasitic Laboulbeniales fungi. Arthrorhynchus eucampsipodae and A. nycteribiae were found on three species of bat flies. This study extends geographical and host ranges of both bat flies and Laboulbeniales fungi. The sequence data generated in this work contribute to molecular phylogenetic studies of the order Laboulbeniales. Our survey shows a complex network of bats, bat flies and Laboulbeniales fungi, of which the hyperparasitic fungi are rare and species-poor. Their host insects, on the other hand, are relatively abundant and diverse.
Original languageEnglish
Article number96
JournalParasites & Vectors
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Arthrorhynchus
  • Bat flies
  • Ecological specificity
  • Ectoparasitic fungi
  • Host specificity
  • Hyperparasitism

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