Confirmed new fungus has mysterious origin

CABI confirms new fungus with mysterious origin

The new fungus Gibellula bang-bangus, on the orb-weaving cave spider Meta menardi, confirmed by CABI scientists. Credit: CABIA

CABI has confirmed a new fungus species after the BBC Springwatch show called on the expertise of Dr. Harry Evans when the mysterious specimen was first discovered in a Victorian gunpowder shop in the Castle Espie wetlands in Northern Ireland.

The fungus, whose host is a cave spider, has been dubbed Gibellula bang-bangus by viewers on the Springwatch program after Dr. Evans’ first studies – based on the morphology of the specimen – considered it a new species.

DNA analysis performed by Dr. Alan Buddie and his team at CABI’s labs in Egham, UK, then confirmed that the fungus is indeed a new species of the spider-specific genus Gibellula.

dr. Evans said, “Based on the DNA sequences taken from the culture isolate I made – in the… phylogenetic treethe new species is in a clade with two species from Asia: hence the speculation about Asian origin made during the Springwatch program.”

It was later suggested by Castle Espie manager Paul Stewart that the fungus might have been introduced to gunpowder or packaging material in the 1800s (Down Recorder, June 22, 2022).

CABI confirms new fungus with mysterious origin

The preparation of the agar plate of Dr. Evans as part of the analysis to confirm Gibellula bang-bangus as a new fungal species. Credit: CABIA

However, the mystery has now been solved after receiving fresh specimens of the same fungus at the same spider species collected by a caver, Tim Fogg, from two natural cave systems in Northern Ireland. His findings confirm that this is a native fungus specific to and pathogenic to a native species of cave spiders: a host that also favors similar man-made habitats: such as culverts, tunnels and, in this case, an underground gunpowder store. .

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Provided by CAB

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