Fungus-growing ants in the tribe Attini maintain a mutualistic relationship with fungi cultivated for food, in a structure named "fungus garden". This substrate harbors a complex microbiome, involving bacteria, yeasts and filamentous fungi. Like other microbiomes, the interaction between microorganisms and the environmental pressure determine the diversity of chemical compounds produced by microorganisms involved in the consortium, including secondary metabolites with therapeutic properties. Here, we aim to compare the metabolic potential in fungus garden microbiomes of two fungiculture systems practiced by fungus-growing ants. Through metagenomics profiling, we will compare the functional aspects of microbiomes associated with fungus garden in the lower and the leafcutter ant fungicultures. This study will allow the determination of genes involved in natural products of therapeutic interest. In addition, the results will build knowledge of the ant-fungus symbiosis, through the bacterial community role in the different fungiculture systems.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: