The biodiversity of medically important arthropods includes study of their symbiotes. Since 1994, our lab has been investigating a group of symbiotic fungi, the trichomycetes, that live in the guts of black flies and other aquatic dipteran larvae. Traditionally, trichomycetes have been considered commensals (the fungus benefits), but they are now known to run the continuum from pathogen to mutualist.
Our work focuses on the ecology and physiology of trichomycetes. Abiotic and biotic factors of streams are associated with the occurrence of trichomycetes. For example, in a set of South Carolina streams, water velocity is positively related to trichomycete prevalence. We are also investigating the occurrence of trichomycetes in their hosts in relation to gut physiology.
See this publication (Trichomycete review paper) for more information.
Harpella melusinae in black fly gut