Leaf-cutting ants cultivate mutualistic fungi for food. Considered agricultural pests in many countries of the New World, these insects comprise the genera Atta and Acromyrmex. Several studies have reported the presence of bacteria, yeasts and filamentous fungi in fungus gardens of leaf-cutting ants, but little is known about the putative roles of these microbes in the symbiosis. The aim of the present work is to study the influence of different plant substrates on the communities of filamentous fungi associated in gardens of leaf-cutting ants. Thus, Atta sexdens rubropilosa and Atta capiguara will be evaluated as such ant species preferably forage for dicot and monocot plants, respectively. Filamentous fungi will be isolated from fungus gardens of A. sexdens rubropilosa and A. capiguara at two different sampling periods. A polyphasic approach based on morphological and molecular markers will be used in fungal identification. Upon completion of this project several DNA barcode sequences from cultivated fungi will be generated. These sequences along with all information about the authentic morphological identification of fungal cultures will boost the structuring of national sequences databases related to DNA barcoding (Brazilian Barcode of Life). Finally, this project will contribute for the structuring of the Microbial Collection of the Bioscience Institute (UNESP / Rio Claro - SP).
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