|Support type:||Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation|
|Effective date (Start):||November 01, 2009|
|Effective date (End):||October 31, 2010|
|Field of knowledge:||Biological Sciences - Microbiology - Applied Microbiology|
|Principal researcher:||Fernando Carlos Pagnocca|
|Grantee:||Fábio Lúcio Antunes Guedes|
|Home Institution:||Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Rio Claro. Rio Claro , SP, Brazil|
Studies revealed the importance and complexity of the symbiosis between fungi and leafcutter ants. Efforts have been made in order to improve knowledge on the real role played by fungi inside ant colonies. This work has the purpose of isolating and identifying melanized fungi in ant nests, which were recently reported. The cuticle of soldiers and workers of Atta sexdens rubropilosa (saúva-Limão), created in the laboratory, and the litter resulted from their activities will be sampled. Thus, our final goal is to bring information to help the comprehension of this complex niche. Fungal cultures will be isolated by spreading different parts of soldiers and workers on agar and inoculating the cuticle after scraping. The flotation method will be used for the litter samples, aiming the isolation of hydrocarbon-degrading representatives. Mycosel agar will be used for the isolation step. Based on a previous analysis it was observed that melanized fungi are present in this niche, like: Curvularia, Cladosporium, Cladophialophora, Coniosporium, Exophiala and Phialophora. These species tend to be opportunistic, what makes this study even more relevant. All strains will be identified at species level to bring more detailed information about the group under study, and clarify their relevance to the symbiosis.