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Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Division of Plant and Soil Sciences


Ambrosia beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae and Platypodinae) rely on a symbiosis with fungi for their nutrition. Symbiotic fungi are preserved and transported in specialized storage structures called mycangia. Although pivotal in the symbiosis, mycangia have been notoriously difficult to study, given their minute size and membranous structure. We compared the application of novel visualization methods for the study of mycangia, namely micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and laser ablation tomography (LATscan) with traditional paraffin sectioning. Micro-CT scanning has shown the greatest promise in new organ discovery, while sectioning remains the only method with sufficient resolution for cellular visualization. All three common types of mycangia (oral, mesonotal, and pronotal) were successfully visualized and presented for different species of ambrosia beetles: Ambrosiodmus minor (Stebbing) 1909, Euplatypus compositus (Say) 1823, Premnobius cavipennis Eichhoff 1878, Scolytoplatypus raja Blandford 1893, Xylosandrus crassiusculus (Motschulsky) 1866 and X. amputatus (Blandford) 1894. A reconstruction of the mycangium and the surrounding musculature in X. amputatus is also presented. The advantages of micro-CT compared to the previously commonly used microtome sectioning include the easy visualization and recording of three-dimensional structures, their position in reference to other internal structures, the ability to distinguish natural aberrations from technical artifacts, and the unprecedented visualizations of the anatomic context of mycangia enabled by the integrated software.

Source Citation

Li, Y., Ruan, Y., Kasson, M. T., Stanley, E. L., Gillett, C. P. D. T., Johnson, A. J., … Hulcr, J. (2018). Structure of the Ambrosia Beetle (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) Mycangia Revealed Through Micro-Computed Tomography. Journal of Insect Science, 18(5).


© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact



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