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Characterization of the ecological function of the black yeast Phialophora fastigiata associated with leaf cutting ants

Grant number: 18/21936-8
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate (Direct)
Effective date (Start): January 20, 2019
Effective date (End): January 19, 2020
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Chemistry - Organic Chemistry
Principal Investigator:João Batista Fernandes
Grantee:Alana Kelyene Pereira
Supervisor abroad: Dieter Spiteller
Home Institution: Centro de Ciências Exatas e de Tecnologia (CCET). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Local de pesquisa : University of Konstanz, Germany  
Associated to the scholarship:16/12304-2 - Chemical study of the symbiont fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus in co-culture with other fungus involved in the garden of leaf-cutter ants, BP.DD

Abstract

Leaf cutting ants live in mutualistic symbiosis with their garden fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus that constitutes their food source. Since the garden fungus is threatened by the pathogenic fungus Escovopsis weberi the ants need to defend their nest. To do so they joined alliance with symbiotic microorganisms, Pseudonocardia and Streptomyces. However, in their nest also other microorganisms occur for example, the black yeast Phialophora fastigiata. So far, the its ecological role is little studied. None of its secondary metabolites has been characterized and their biological function in the complex microcosmos of the leaf cutting ants and of its microorganisms has not been addressed. So far, I have isolated black yeasts and started to analyze their metabolic profiles by LC-MS. In my BEPE research project, I want to identify bioactive secondary metabolites from black yeast isolates using bioassay-guided isolation, mass spectrometry and NMR and reveal the possible function of secondary metabolites from them in the interactions with other organisms in the leaf cutting ants' nest. Also, I will compare the metabolite profiles from different black yeast isolates. Potential metabolic differences among the black yeast isolates could be matched to their phylogenetic analysis. My experiments will contribute to an in depth understanding of the ecological role of black yeasts in leaf cutting ants' nests. (AU)