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Metabolomics of the fungus cultivated by the ants and consequent attraction of the parasite Escovopsis

Grant number: 18/12481-7
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2018
Effective date (End): February 29, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Microbiology
Cooperation agreement: Coordination of Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES)
Principal Investigator:André Rodrigues
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

Ants in the tribe Attini maintain a mutualism with basidiomycetous fungi cultivated for food. Fungi in the genus Escovopsis are known to exploit this association as parasites of the ant fungal cultivar. Previous results from our research group (FAPESP #2016/06443-0) found that Escovopsis does not exhibit host specificity, since it is able to recognize and be attracted by the metabolites present in culture filtrates derived from the mutualistic fungi of leafcutter and non-leafcutter ants. Although studies have investigated the chemical compounds produced by the mutualistic fungi involved in the interaction with the ants, nothing is known regarding the metabolites produced by this fungus when interacting with Escovopsis. The aim of this project is to investigate the fungal metabolites produced by the ant fungal cultivars that are recognized by Escovopsis. Thus, we intent to: (i) perform in vitro bioassays to evaluate whether culture filtrate concentration is capable of interfering in the recognition and consequent attraction of Escovopsis towards the mutualistic fungi, and (ii) profiling for the metabolites in these filtrates by high performance liquid chromatography. This work will provide information on the host-parasite interaction in the attine ant system. Such knowledge may prove useful for applied studies, such as formulation of biological products for the control of leafcutter ants, considered agricultural pests in Brazil.