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Applied and Environmental Microbiology


The southern pine beetle, a damaging pest of conifers, is intimately linked to three symbiotic fungi. Two fungi, Ceratocystiopsis ranaculosus and Entomocorticium sp. A, are transported within specialized structures (mycangia) in the beetle exoskeleton and are mutualists of the beetle. A third fungus, Ophiostoma minus, is transported externally on the beetle exoskeleton (phoretically) and is an antagonist of the beetle. This study examined competitive interactions among these three fungi. The results of de Wit replacement series and primary and secondary resource capture assays with these fungi provide strong evidence for differential competition between the phoretic and mycangial fungi. O. minus was the most able to capture both uncolonized and colonized resources. Entomocorticium sp. A and C. ranaculosus, although equal to one another in compet- itive abilities, differed in their ability to compete with O. minus. Entomocorticium sp. A was able to maintain space free of O. minus to a much greater degree than was C. ranaculosus. The outcome of such competitive interactions may have significant impacts on the biology of this ecologically and economically important beetle.