Advanced search
Start date

Host-specificity and mechanisms of action of Escovopsis parasites found in the gardens of attine ants


Ants in the tribe Attini (the "attines") live with symbiotic fungi they cultivate for food. Escovopsis fungi are parasites of the attine ants' fungal partner, characterizing a tripartite association (ants, mutualistic and parasitic fungi). Previous studies by our laboratory (FAPESP grants 2014/24298-1 and 2011/16765-0) allowed us to gather a collection of Escovopsis and mutualistic fungi strains from various attine ant species across several biomes in Brazil. We demonstrated that a high diversification of Escovopsis strains occurred over the evolutionary time. Similar parasite strains were found in colonies of different attine ant species. Whether these strains are capable to infect different mutualistic fungi remains elusive. To understand the parasite specificity towards its host, we pose the following questions: (i) in higher-attines: can Escovopsis strains found in leaf-cutter ant colonies infect fungi cultivated by non-leaf-cutter ants? (ii) in lower-attines: is E. trichodermoides a generalist parasite? (iii) what are the mechanisms the parasite use to kill its host? (iv) can Escovopsis consume the cellular contents of its host? To provide answers for the first two questions we will carry out in vitro assays presenting different mutualistic fungi strains to Escovopsis to evaluate its specificity. In addition, dual-culture assays will be carried out to determine magnitude of the interaction towards different hosts. To answer the third question, we will use confocal laser scanning microscopy to evaluate whether specialized structures of the parasite are necessary to interact with its host. The forth question will be pursued by enriching the fungal cultivar with nitrogen isotopes and follow their patch to the fungal parasite, confirming the parasitic nature of Escovopsis (i.e. by direct absorbing cellular contents from its host). Together, data from specificity experiments and the mechanisms of action are fundamental to understand the biology of Escovopsis parasitism and open new avenues to apply this microorganism as a potential control agent of leaf-cutter ants, well-known agriculture pests in Brazil. (AU)

Articles published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the research grant:
Articles published in other media outlets (0 total):
More itemsLess items

Scientific publications (7)
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
JIMENEZ-GOMEZ, IRINA; BARCOTO, MARIANA O.; MONTOYA, QUIMI V.; GOES, ARYEL C.; MONTEIRO, LANA S. V. E.; BUENO, ODAIR C.; RODRIGUES, ANDRE. Host Susceptibility Modulates Escovopsis Pathogenic Potential in the Fungiculture of Higher Attine Ants. FRONTIERS IN MICROBIOLOGY, v. 12, . (17/12689-4, 19/03746-0)
URREA-VALENCIA, SALOME; BIZARRIA JR, RODOLFO; KOOIJ, PEPIJN W.; MONTOYA, QUIMI VIDAURRE; RODRIGUES, ANDRE. Unraveling fungal species cultivated by lower attine ants. MYCOLOGICAL PROGRESS, v. 22, n. 9, p. 19-pg., . (17/12689-4, 17/10631-9, 19/03746-0)
MONTOYA, QUIMI VIDAURRE; SUTTA MARTIARENA, MARIA JESUS; POLEZEL, DANILO AUGUSTO; KAKAZU, SERGIO; RODRIGUES, ANDRE. More pieces to a huge puzzle: Two new Escovopsis species from fungus gardens of attine ants. MYCOKEYS, n. 46, p. 97-118, . (16/04955-3, 14/24298-1, 17/12689-4)
MONTOYA, QUIMI VIDAURRE; SUTTA MARTIARENA, MARIA JESUS; BIZARRIA JR, RODOLFO; GERARDO, NICOLE MARIE; RODRIGUES, ANDRE. Fungi inhabiting attine ant colonies: reassessment of the genus Escovopsis and description of Luteomyces and Sympodiorosea gens. nov.. IMA FUNGUS, v. 12, n. 1, . (19/03746-0, 14/24298-1, 18/07931-3, 17/12689-4, 16/04955-3)
MARTIARENA, MARIA JESUS SUTTA; DEVEAU, AURELIE; MONTOYA, QUIMI VIDAURRE; FLOREZ, LAURA V.; RODRIGUES, ANDRE. The Hyphosphere of Leaf-Cutting Ant Cultivars Is Enriched with Helper Bacteria. MICROBIAL ECOLOGY, v. N/A, p. 16-pg., . (21/04706-1, 19/03746-0, 17/12689-4, 14/24298-1)
BIZARRIA JR, RODOLFO; NAGAMOTO, NILSON SATORU; RODRIGUES, ANDRE. Lack of fungal cultivar fidelity and low virulence of Escovopsis trichodermoides. Fungal Ecology, v. 45, . (17/10631-9, 17/12689-4)
MONTOYA, QUIMI VIDAURRE; SUTTA MARTIARENA, MARIA JESUS; POLEZEL, DANILO AUGUSTO; KAKAZU, SERGIO; RODRIGUES, ANDRE. More pieces to a huge puzzle: Two new Escovopsis species from fungus gardens of attine ants. MYCOKEYS, v. N/A, n. 46, p. 22-pg., . (14/24298-1, 17/12689-4, 16/04955-3)

Please report errors in scientific publications list using this form.