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Compounds produced by the mutualistic fungus of leaf-cutting ants on Escovopsis growing

Grant number: 16/06443-0
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2016
Effective date (End): November 30, 2017
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Microbiology - Applied Microbiology
Principal Investigator:Odair Correa Bueno
Grantee:Karina Bueno de Oliveira
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Rio Claro. Rio Claro , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:12/25299-6 - Integrated studies for leaf cutting control, AP.TEM

Abstract

Fungus gardens of leaf-cutting ants harbor several microorganisms in addition to the mutualistic fungus cultivated by these insects for food. Fungi in the genus Escovopsis are found in the fungus gardens and are considered specialized parasites of the ant fungal partner. Because of its recent discovery, little is known about the mechanisms responsible for maintaining the interaction between Escovopsis and the fungal cultivar. Here, we intent to evaluate whether the chemical compounds secreted by the mutualistic fungus from Atta and Acromyrmex ants are responsible for the low specificity found between the parasite strains also found on both ant species. Using in vitro dual-culture experiments between Escovopsis strains and the mutualistic fungus isolated from both leaf-cutting ant genera, we expect to add the knowledge on the nature of the Escovopsis parasitism. (AU)