Entomophthora muscae parasitising a fly

Entomophthora muscae parasitising a fly

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Credit: DR JEREMY BURGESS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: A bluebottle fly (Calliphora vomitoria) killed by the parasitic fungus (Entomophthora muscae). The fungus is highly adapted to its host. Infection involves growth of hyphae into the brain of the insect, causing a behavioural change. The fly is induced to crawl upwards and extend its wings. Following the death of the fly, this posture ensures the widest possible dispersion of the air-borne conidia produced by the fungus. These conidia will infect other flies with which they come into contact. E. muscae is widespread and most active during cool humid weather, as in Spring or Autumn. Although potentially a biological control for many types of fly, the fungus cannot be cultured in vitro, and the spores are short lived, restricting its practical use. The picture shows a dead fly in characteristic posture; the striped appearance is due to the fungus growing between abdominal segments.

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Keywords: adaptation, biological, biological control, biology, bluebottle fly, calliphora vomitoria, conidia, entomophthora muscae, insect, parasite, parasitic fungus, zoological, zoology

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