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MELANIZED FUNGI ASSOCIATED TO LEAFCUTTER ANTS (FORMICIDAE: TRIBO ATTINI)

Grant number: 09/10001-9
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

Abstract

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.

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)
GUEDES, F. L. A.; ATTILI-ANGELIS, D.; PAGNOCCA, F. C. Selective isolation of dematiaceous fungi from the workers of Atta laevigata (Formicidae: Attini). Folia Microbiologica, v. 57, n. 1, p. 21-26, JAN 2012. Web of Science Citations: 9.

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