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(Reference retrieved automatically from Web of Science through information on FAPESP grant and its corresponding number as mentioned in the publication by the authors.)

How Do Leaf-Cutting Ants Recognize Antagonistic Microbes in Their Fungal Crops?

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Goes, Aryel C. [1] ; Barcoto, Mariana O. [1] ; Kooij, Pepijn W. [1, 2] ; Bueno, Odair C. [1] ; Rodrigues, Andre [1]
Total Authors: 5
[1] Sao Paulo State Univ UNESP, Ctr Study Social Insects, Campus Rio Claro, Rio Claro - Brazil
[2] Royal Bot Gardens, Comparat Plant & Fungal Biol, London - England
Total Affiliations: 2
Document type: Review article
Web of Science Citations: 0

Leaf-cutting ants employ diverse behavioral strategies for promoting the growth of fungal cultivars in a structure known as fungus garden. As a nutritionally rich resource for the ants, the fungal crop is threatened by microbial antagonists and pathogens. Strategies for protecting the garden against harmful microbes have been described in detail, although the process of microbial threat recognition is not fully understood. Here, we review the literature on leaf-cutting ants' social immunity traits, in search of possibilities by which workers recognize harmful microbes in their system. Based on current data, we suggest mechanisms regarding (1) chemical recognition, where discrimination could be related to chemical cues from the antagonistic microbe or semiochemicals released by the fungus garden during harmful interactions, or (2) through associative learning when workers would connect the microbe cues with a damage in the fungus garden, developing a ``colony-level memory{''} toward this threat. We also discuss evidence supporting ant-fungus communication as key for maintaining the health of the fungus garden, as well as experimental setups for future evaluation of threat detection and recognition by leaf-cutting ants. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 12/25299-6 - Integrated studies for leaf cutting control
Grantee:João Batista Fernandes
Support type: Research Projects - Thematic Grants
FAPESP's process: 19/03087-6 - In search for specificity and learning in the defensive recognition against fungal antagonists in Atta Sexdens colonies
Grantee:Aryel Camero Goes
Support type: Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
FAPESP's process: 19/03746-0 - Collaborative research: Dimensions US-São Paulo: integrating phylogeny, genetics, and chemical ecology to unravel the tangled bank of the multipartite fungus-farming ant symbiosis
Grantee:André Rodrigues
Support type: BIOTA-FAPESP Program - Thematic Grants