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Escovopsis trichodermoides sp. nov., isolated from a nest of the lower attine ant Mycocepurus goeldii

Masiulionis, Virginia E., Cabello, Marta N., Seifert, Keith A., Rodrigues, Andre, Pagnocca, Fernando C.
Antonie van Leeuwenhoek 2015 v.107 no.3 pp. 731-740
Acromyrmex subterraneus, Atta, DNA barcoding, Mycocepurus goeldii, Trachymyrmex, conidia, conidiophores, fungi, fungus gardens, internal transcribed spacers, leaf-cutting ants, new species, phylogeny, ribosomal DNA, species diversity, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago
Currently, five species are formally described in Escovopsis, a specialized mycoparasitic genus of fungus gardens of attine ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: tribe Attini). Four species were isolated from leaf-cutting ants in Brazil, including Escovopsis moelleri and Escovopsis microspora from nests of Acromyrmex subterraneus molestans, Escovopsis weberi from a nest of Atta sp. and Escovopsis lentecrescens from a nest of Acromyrmex subterraneus subterraneus. The fifth species, Escovopsis aspergilloides was isolated from a nest of the higher attine ant Trachymyrmex ruthae from Trinidad. Here, we describe a new species, Escovopsis trichodermoides isolated from a fungus garden of the lower attine ant Mycocepurus goeldii, which differs from the five other species by highly branched, trichoderma-like conidiophores lacking swollen vesicles, with reduced conidiogenous cells and distinctive conidia morphology. Phylogenetic analyses based on partial tef1 gene sequences support the distinctiveness of this species. A portion of the internal transcribed spacers of the nuclear rDNA was sequenced to serve as a DNA barcode. Future molecular and morphological studies in this group of fungi will certainly unravel the taxonomic diversity of Escovopsis associated with fungus-growing ants.