Susceptibility of Latrodectus geometricus (Araneae: Theridiidae) to a Mucor Strain Discovered in North Central Florida, USA

C. S. Bibbs, A. M. Vitoreli, G. Benny, C. L. Harmon, R. W. Baldwin


A population of adult reproductive female brown widow spiders, Latrodectus geometricus Koch (Araneae: Theridiidae) was collected in North Central Florida. Within weeks, the spiders displayed reduced foraging behavior and began to die. A white fungal growth was observed on deceased individuals and others who showed signs of decline. Fungal samples were collected from living spiders as well as from recently deceased specimens. Samples were excised from the spiders and isolated on acidified potato dextrose agar. Morphological characterization was cross referenced with the most recent phenotypic variability studies to confirm probable matches. Molecular identification was rendered using ITS1/5.8S/ITS2 and Mucor fragilis Bainier (Mucorales: Mucoraceae) was indicated with 99% match. Little is documented regarding M. fragilis, and no prior records of pathogenic occurrence are known by the authors. Subsequent bioassay trials supported with 83% mortality that this novel strain of M. fragilis does infect and kill L. geometricus.

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