Murray State University

Poster Title

Study 2 (Jent): Pathogenic Fungi Affecting Cellar Spiders, Pholcus phalangioides

Institution

Murray State University

Abstract

Cellar Spiders, Pholcus phalangioides, are originally from tropical regions and are an introduced species in North America. Since they require a warm environment, they are common in homes and other buildings occupied by humans. Occasionally Cellar Spiders are found dead and covered in a dense white fungus. Understanding what types of fungi are being distributed by P. phalangioides would give us a better idea of what human occupants are being exposed to as well. We first determined what fungi were associated with cellar spiders by plating on potato dextrose agar. Six species of fungus, including four putative pathogens, were sent to the USDA for identification. We then tested to determine whether the fungi were pathogenic to the spider. Live Cellar Spiders were collected and 6 individuals were exposed to each possible fungal pathogen. Only one fungus, Engyodontium aranearum, resulted in death and overgrowth of the spiders. In further tests exposure to E. aranearum resulted in a 100 percent mortality rate in 13 spiders compared to 12 unexposed controls in which none died. All of the deaths took place between 13 and 30 days after exposure. The outcome strongly suggests that Cellar Spiders are susceptible to this fungal pathogen which may be common in many homes considering the spiders almost world-wide distribution.

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Study 2 (Jent): Pathogenic Fungi Affecting Cellar Spiders, Pholcus phalangioides

Cellar Spiders, Pholcus phalangioides, are originally from tropical regions and are an introduced species in North America. Since they require a warm environment, they are common in homes and other buildings occupied by humans. Occasionally Cellar Spiders are found dead and covered in a dense white fungus. Understanding what types of fungi are being distributed by P. phalangioides would give us a better idea of what human occupants are being exposed to as well. We first determined what fungi were associated with cellar spiders by plating on potato dextrose agar. Six species of fungus, including four putative pathogens, were sent to the USDA for identification. We then tested to determine whether the fungi were pathogenic to the spider. Live Cellar Spiders were collected and 6 individuals were exposed to each possible fungal pathogen. Only one fungus, Engyodontium aranearum, resulted in death and overgrowth of the spiders. In further tests exposure to E. aranearum resulted in a 100 percent mortality rate in 13 spiders compared to 12 unexposed controls in which none died. All of the deaths took place between 13 and 30 days after exposure. The outcome strongly suggests that Cellar Spiders are susceptible to this fungal pathogen which may be common in many homes considering the spiders almost world-wide distribution.