Quantification of Propagules of the Laurel Wilt Fungus and Other Mycangial Fungi from the Redbay Ambrosia Beetle, Xyleborus glabratus
The laurel wilt pathogen, Raffaelea lauricola, is a fungal symbiont of the redbay ambrosia beetle, Xyleborus glabratus, which is native to Asia and was believed to have brought R. lauricola with it to the southeastern United States. Individual X. glabratus beetles from six populations in South Carolina and Georgia were individually macerated in glass tissue grinders and serially diluted to quantify the CFU of fungal symbionts. Six species of Raffaelea were isolated, with up to four species from an individual adult beetle. The Raffaelea spp. were apparently within the protected, paired, mandibular mycangia because they were as numerous in heads as in whole beetles, and surface-sterilized heads or whole bodies yielded as many or more CFU as did nonsterilized heads or whole beetles. R. lauricola was isolated from 40 of the 41 beetles sampled, and it was isolated in the highest numbers, up to 30,000 CFU/beetle. Depending on the population sampled, R. subalba or R. ellipticospora was the next most frequently isolated species. R. arxii, R. fusca, and R. subfusca were only occasionally isolated. The laurel wilt pathogen apparently grows in a yeast phase within the mycangia in competition with other Raffaelea spp.