This is my third time in Panama and again: I am having a blast! In collaboration with the Bat Lab in Gamboa my students and myself went mist netting for bats and their bloodsucking bat flies. I screened the bat flies for the presence of Laboulbeniales hyperparasites, worked on the morphological identification of the fungi, and started the DNA extraction protocol. The past week, my students have finished these isolations and did a bunch of amplifications of ribosomal genes at the molecular facility of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, while I was hunting for lady beetles with Laboulbeniales in Davíd, Chiriquí.
In preparation of our course on fungi associated with insects next week here in Davíd, Rosa Villarreal, Tomás Ríos, and myself went out to the Jardín Botánico de la Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí. We placed ten pitfall traps and hopefully by next week, many of these will be filled with insects carrying thalli of Laboulbeniales ectoparasitic fungi for our students to work with. We were in the garden for barely half an hour, but walking in a botanical garden in the tropics is not the same as in the temperate zone. So much diversity! My camera died on me pretty instantly, but I have been able to make pictures of at least some nice collections of fungi.