WAR  of  the  MICROWORLDS  

How do I kill Thee?   Let me count the Ways!   (#1)

' Ballocephala sphaerosporaConidia attach to the mouth region of the tardigrade (water bear), penetrate to the interior with an infection peg, and quickly fill the animal with assimilative hyphae (see below). ZYGOMYCOTA.  For further information on this species see Drechsler C.  1951.  Bull Torrey Bot Club 78:183-200).

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Conidia of Ballocephala bonded to the head of a Tardigrade and Penetrating to the Interior

Asexual spores of the parasitic fungus Ballocephala (Zygomycota) attach to cuticle of  the  Tardigrade (Water Bear).  The conidia attach to the head region of the browsing Tardigrades (left micrograph).   The cuticle of the host is penetrated by long, narrow, penetration pegs that snake their way into the interior of the host.   The infection pegs then broaden to form a young thalli that secrete extracellular enzymes to digest the interior.   Eventually, the entire body of the host is filled with broad, assimilative hyphae (below)  At first some hyphae break through the cuticle to the outside and produce spherical, asexual spores (right micrograph) that spread the disease locally.   Later Zygospores form inside the body for long term persistence (click here). 

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Body of parasitized Tardigrade Host filled with the Assimilative Hyphae of the Endoparasite Ballocephala

Images copyright George Barron from MycoAlbum CD (contains these and a 1000 more)

Comment on MycoAlbum CD by PF' I really enjoyed the CD. What a great piece of work! '