Interactions of moulds and insects
Filamentous fungi and saprophage insects are suspected to be competitors on decaying
organic matter. Both organisms have equal requirements considering habitat and nutrition.
Insect larvae negatively influence mould development, but filamentous fungi can be an
important cause of mortality of insect larvae. These competitions in insect-mould interactions have
largely been ignored.
Using a combination of experimental ecology and functional genomic techniques the function
of moulds secondary metabolites (e.g. mycotoxins) as a chemical defence in insects-moulds-interactions
as well as the influence of these competitors at trophic interaction between insects ought to be investigated.
For our research the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster and its natural mould antagonist Aspergillus were used as
a form of ecology model system. By the use of gene expression experiments from secondary metabolism of moulds
which interact on festered matter with the antagonistic Drosophila larvae we want to identify fungal target
genes. Furthermore the expressions of target genes have to be manipulated to obtain fungal mutants to
analyse their use as competitors with insect larvae. The aim of these experiments is to show the
importance of fungal secondary metabolism and if these products offer a defence against the
concurrent insect larvae respectively. Therefore the consequence on evolutionary fitness of the
fungi and insect will be analysed.
REGULIN A, KEMPKEN F (2018) Fungal genotype determines survival of Drosophila melanogaster when competing with Aspergillus nidulans. PLoS ONE 13: e0190543. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0190543
FOHGRUB U, KEMPKEN F (2012) Molecular analysis of fungal gene expression upon interkingdom competition with insects. Methods Mol Biol 944:279-286
KEMPKEN F (2011) Fungal defences against animal antagonists â€“ lectins & more. Molecular Ecology 20:2876-2877
KEMPKEN F, ROHLFS M (2010) Fungal secondary metabolite biosynthesis â€“ a chemical defense strategy against antagonistic animals? Fungal Ecol 3:107-114
ROHLFS M, TRIENENS M, FOHGRUB U, KEMPKEN F (2009) Evolutionary and ecological interactions of mould and insects. In: ANKE T (ed) The Mycota XV. Physiology and Genetics: Selected Basic and Applied Aspects. Springer Verlag, New York, Dordrecht, Heidelberg, London, pp131-151
ROHLFS M, ALBERT M, KELLER NP, KEMPKEN F (2007) Secondary chemicals protect mould from fungivory. Biol Lett, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2007.0338