Cuckoo Bird and Cuckoo Fungus

Cuccko fungus is named by its similarity to others “cuccko” such as cucckobird, cuccko bees or cuckoo wasps (Chrysididae). The similarities  are in the behavior of the individual to oviposit in other nest who then raise the intruder’s offspring as if it were their own (Horn, 1976)

            Cuccko fungus also did the same thing, they mimic the egg of termite, so the termite will take care of it. Cuccko fungus also called as termite balls since it look like ball present in termite nest, it is a clear “egg mimicry”. Termite balls is a brown fungal balls,  it is  sclerotia, a  fungal resting body, for survival during periods of unfavorable conditions then sprouting becomes fungal colonies when things get better. This sclerotia belongs to fungus Fibularhizoctonia sp. Which phylogenetically closest to decay fungi Athelia spp.

Termite ball has sophisticated mimicry to termite eggs both morphologically and chemically, so the worker that  are blind can not recognize the ball and the eggs. This fact proved by conducting an experiment using dummy eggs made of glass beads (Matsuura, 2006). The number of those balls varied from nest to nest, from a few to over 800, and there could be way more balls than eggs (Metzner, 2006)

The termite ball keep in sclerotia form due to inhibition by termite saliva (Thomas, 1987 cit in. Matsuura, 2003),the objective of this inhibitions is to enhance eggs survival due to bacteriostatic and fungistatic substance present in sclerotia although termite it self have ability to protect their eggs by their saliva, but it seems it is a complementary associations. This inhibition looks like does not happened for long term, the termite will remove them and let them germinate and grow on termite excretion in the corner of the nest. So termite balls seems to have mutualistic rather than parasitic with termite.

Termite ball and termite eggs (Matsuura, 2006)

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