Spatial and taxonomical overlap of fungi on phylloplanes and invasive alien ladybirds with fungal infections in tree crowns of urban green spaces

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Occurrence of entomopathogenic fungi on phylloplanes in Tilia × europaea crowns between 1 and 13 m was assessed in urban parks. Prevalence of fungal infections in ladybirds (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) collected from Tilia × europaea was assessed to determine whether fungi found on phylloplanes also occurred as infections in ladybirds. Isaria spp. was most abundant on phylloplanes (mean colony forming units (CFU) per leaf ± SE, 0.33 ± 0.03) followed by Beauveria spp. (0.22 ± 0.02 CFU per leaf) and Lecanicillium spp. (0.19 ± 0.02 CFU per leaf). Densities of inoculum were higher in inner crowns and decreased with height, although Lecanicillium spp. peaked at 5–7 m. Upper phylloplane surfaces harboured higher densities of Isaria spp. and Beauveria spp. than lower surfaces, whereas Lecanicillium spp. was equally distributed. Most prevalent on ladybirds were Isaria spp. (20.6% Harmonia axyridis; 4.8% natives), Lecanicillium spp. (13.6% H. axyridis; 4.8% natives), with fewer Beauveria spp. infections (2.6% H. axyridis). Molecular identification revealed Beauveria bassiana, B. pseudobassiana, Isaria farinosa and Lecanicillium muscarium among isolates of both tree and ladybird origin. Tilia × europaea phylloplanes support a diverse assemblage of entomopathogenic fungal species with a different prevalence in coccinellids compared to their relative abundance in this habitat.

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