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Escovopsis trichodermoides as a parasite in the lower-attine ant fungiculture

Grant number: 17/10631-9
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2017
Effective date (End): February 28, 2019
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Microbiology - Biology and Physiology of Microorganisms
Principal Investigator:André Rodrigues
Grantee:Rodolfo Bizarria Júnior
Host Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Rio Claro. Rio Claro , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:12/25299-6 - Integrated studies for leaf cutting control, AP.TEM


An interesting example of symbiotic association is the mutualism between ants in the tribe Attini and fungi they grow for food. Fungi in the genus Escovopsis are parasites of the fungal partner cultivated by these insects. The parasite is specialized to certain mutualistic fungi, although occasional host switches occurred during the evolution of this association. Recently, our research group described Escovopsis trichodermoides from lower attine ant colonies. There is a lack of knowledge regarding its specificity and parasitic mechanisms towards the mutualistic fungi cultivated by lower attine ants. In this study we will attempt to answer the question: Does E. trichodermoides present similar parasite-host specificity that naturally occurs in other Escovopsis species? In vitro dual-culture assays will be performed to evaluate whether these strains inhibit the growth of the mutualistic fungi. In addition, experiments will be carried out to evaluate the preference of E. trichodermoides strains to different mutualistic fungi of lower attine ants. Then, we will also verify the possible mechanisms used by E. trichodermoides to affect their host. In this case, we will perform growth assays of the mutualistic fungi against the metabolites produced by E. trichodermoides, in addition to scanning electron microscopy experiments to investigate the physical interaction with its host. Our results will determine whether E. trichodermoides is in fact a parasite of the fungi cultivated by lower attine ants. Moreover, our results will demonstrate the generalist or specialist behavior of this parasite against its host. Therefore, this project will contribute to the understanding of the evolution process of Escovopsis parasitism associated with lower attine ants, describing the role of E. trichodermoides in colonies of these insects. (AU)

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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)
BIZARRIA JR, RODOLFO; NAGAMOTO, NILSON SATORU; RODRIGUES, ANDRE. Lack of fungal cultivar fidelity and low virulence of Escovopsis trichodermoides. Fungal Ecology, v. 45, . (17/10631-9, 17/12689-4)
Academic Publications
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)
BIZARRIA JÚNIOR, Rodolfo. Lack of host fidelity and low virulence of the filamentous fungus Escovopsis trichodermoides. 2019. Master's Dissertation - Universidade Estadual Paulista (Unesp). Instituto de Biociências. Rio Claro Rio Claro.

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