Advanced search
Start date

Substrate processing by Attini ants: dynamics and metabolic cooperation with microbes


The amount of plant biomass processed by Attini ants is comparable to that consumed by livestock or produced by agriculture held by humans. The massive capacity for converting plant material in animal biomass is the result of 50 million years coevolution of ants with plant digesting microbes. The main microbes involved with digestion are mutualistic basidiomycete fungi cultivated by the ants on various substrates brought to the nest. This cultivation is called "fungus garden", although other microbes can also degrade substrates in the garden. The current research proposal aims to reconstruct the evolutionary steps leading to the high improved transferring of carbons from plant matter to ant biomass, including polysaccharide degradation. To accomplish that, substrate harvesting by ants and its degradation in the fungus garden will be characterized in primitive, intermediate and more derived Attini species. This characterization includes analysis of polysaccharidase activities, polysaccharide metabolites concentration, microbial growth rates and microbial biomass produced in the fungus garden. In addition, next generation transcriptomic sequencing will be used to identify genes involved in plant polysaccharides catabolic pathways. The results obtained can be applied to biotechnological processes in plant biomass degradation and to reveal key enzymes for ant nutrition which might be used as molecular targets for the control of agricultural pest Attini ants. (AU)

Articles published in Pesquisa FAPESP Magazine about the research grant:
Un menú más variado 
A more varied menu 
Articles published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the research grant:
Articles published in other media outlets (0 total):
More itemsLess items

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)
RABELING, C.; MESSER, S.; LACAU, S.; DO NASCIMENTO, I. C.; BACCI, JR., M.; DELABIE, J. H. C.. Acromyrmex fowleri: a new inquiline social parasite species of leaf-cutting ants from South America, with a discussion of social parasite biogeography in the Neotropical region. Insectes Sociaux, v. 66, n. 3, p. 435-451, . (14/25507-3)
MUELLER, ULRICH G.; KARDISH, MELISSA R.; ISHAK, HEATHER D.; WRIGHT, APRIL M.; SOLOMON, SCOTT E.; BRUSCHI, SOFIA M.; CARLSON, ALEXIS L.; BACCI, JR., MAURICIO. Phylogenetic patterns of ant-fungus associations indicate that farming strategies, not only a superior fungal cultivar, explain the ecological success of leafcutter ants. Molecular Ecology, v. 27, n. 10, p. 2414-2434, . (14/25507-3)

Please report errors in scientific publications list by writing to: