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Phylogeny, systematics and diversification of Escovopsis fungi from Attini ants

Grant number: 16/04955-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): June 01, 2016
Effective date (End): December 31, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Microbiology - Applied Microbiology
Principal Investigator:André Rodrigues
Grantee:Quimi Vidaurre Montoya
Host 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
Associated scholarship(s):18/07931-3 - Evolution of fungal parasites in the attine ant-fungus symbiosis, BE.EP.DR


Attine ants maintain a mutualistic relationship with fungi grown for food. Parasitic fungi from the genus Escovopsis threaten the ant mutualistic partner. Despite the importance of this genus in the biological control of leaf-cutting ants (higher-attines), few studies focused in the taxonomy and systematics of Escovopsis. Recent results from our research group (Young Research Award FAPESP grant # 2011/16765-0 and 2013/25748-8) suggest the parasite has an increased diversity as well as high morphological variability with adaptations to parasitize the mutualistic fungus. However, little is known about the Escovopsis that occur in non-leaf-cutting attine ant colonies (lower-attines). Here, we aim to carry out a comprehensive study considering Escovopsis from several ant species from different geographical regions to answer the following questions: I) What is the diversity of the genus Escovopsis?, II) Is this diversity similar among higher and lower-attines? and (III) What is the morphological variability of the genus? We will investigate a comprehensive collection of Escovopsis (about 400 strains) obtained over the years by our research group and by the laboratory of Dr. Ulrich G. Mueller (UTexas, Austin, USA) as well as additional strains collected in the present proposal. All strains will be sequenced for three molecular markers (ITS, tef1 and LSU) for phylogenetic analyses and a detailed analysis of the morphological structures will also be performed. This work will unravel the genetic and morphological diversity of the genus Escovopsis, likely resulting in new species descriptions and creating a taxonomic basis for studies involved in the biological control work of attine ants. (AU)

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Scientific publications
(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)
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)
Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
MONTOYA, Quimi Vidaurre. Systematics and evolution of Escovopsis and hypocrealean relatives associated with attine ant colonies. 2020. Doctoral Thesis - Universidade Estadual Paulista (Unesp). Instituto de Biociências. Rio Claro Rio Claro.

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