Evidence for fungivory in Cretaceous amber forests from Gondwana and Laurasia
Schmidt, Alexander R.; Dörfelt, Heinrich; Struwe, Steffi; Perrichot, Vincent
published: Oct 4, 2010
Cretaceous amber inclusions of insect faecal pellets (also called frass) that consist of remnants of ascomycetes and basidiomycetes provide evidence for fungivory in the Mesozoic. Conidia of an anamorphic ascomycete and the possible remains of the perithecia of its teleomorph were found in Cenomanian resin from central Ethiopia. A new anamorphic genus and species, Palaeocurvularia variabilis Dörfelt et A. R. Schmidt, is described here based on the fungal remains inside and outside the faecal pellets in the amber. Other faecal pellets consisting of remnants of polyporoid basidiomata (polyporous fungi or bracket fungi) were found in pieces of amber from the uppermost Albian in southwestern France. Pigmented skeletal hyphae, setae (spinulae) and basidiospores suggest that this insect food source pertains to the Hymenochaetales (Basidiomycota, Agaricomycetidae). While large fruiting bodies of the Homobasidiomycetes do not appear in the fossil record until the Early Cretaceous, the newly found amber inclusions from France show that these early macromycetes must have served as a habitat for fungivorous insects since the Albian.