Microbial symbionts of leaf-cutting ants (Atta and Acromyrmex)

Microbiology Seminar Series

  • Datum: 25.01.2017
  • Uhrzeit: 15:15
  • Vortragende(r): Prof. Dr. Adrián Pinto Tomás
  • Center for Research in Microscopic Structures, University of Costa Rica
  • Ort: MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology
  • Raum: Lecture hall
  • Gastgeber: Prof. Dr. Andreas Brune
  • Kontakt: brune@mpi-marburg.mpg.de
Leaf-cutting ants harvest substantial amounts of leaf material to cultivate a specialized fungus for food (Leucoagaricus). This complex symbiosis includes at least four coevolved organisms: the farming ants, their fungal crop, a specialized mycoparasite of the ant’s fungal gardens (Escovopsis), and actinomycete bacteria (Pseudonocardia) that the ants culture on their bodies to obtain antibiotics against the parasites. We described an additional symbiosis with Nitrogen-fixing bacteria that colonize the fungus gardens and contribute to supplement the ants’ nutrition. Our present research efforts in Costa Rica focus on potential biotechnological applications of the ants’ microbial symbionts, including bioprospecting for new antibiotics and developing microbial-based biocontrol strategies.
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