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In search for specificity and learning in the defensive recognition against fungal antagonists in Atta Sexdens colonies

Grant number: 19/03087-6
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2019
Effective date (End): January 31, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Applied Zoology
Principal researcher:André Rodrigues
Grantee:Aryel Camero Goes
Home 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


Due to the high risk of epidemics in their dense aggregations of individuals, social insects have developed individual and group-level defenses against pathogens. Collectively such defensive and altruistic behaviors are termed 'the social immune system' of ant colonies. Leafcutter ants in the genera Atta and Acromyrmex are in constant contact with various fungi that invade their colonies. Thus, ants exhibit a repertoire of defenses to remove these fungi. It is speculated the recognition and response towards these fungi are species-specific, but not generalized. However, there is no study that demonstrated such specificity and how it come to effect. We hypothesized that whether this specificity response exists, then it may be related to the ants ability to learn and recognize parasites from previously exposures with these antagonists. To study these responses, we intent to perform bioassays in colonies of Atta sexdens, immunizing them every fifteen days and follow their responses to spores of different fungi, including saprobes, entomopathogens and mycoparasites. Our quest is for specificity, memory and increase of hygienic actions in immunized colonies. Based on our hypothesis and with the results from derived from this study we intent to elaborate the first explanatory model of social immunity in leaf-cutting ants.

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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)
GOES, ARYEL C.; BARCOTO, MARIANA O.; KOOIJ, PEPIJN W.; BUENO, ODAIR C.; RODRIGUES, ANDRE. How Do Leaf-Cutting Ants Recognize Antagonistic Microbes in Their Fungal Crops?. FRONTIERS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, v. 8, MAY 5 2020. Web of Science Citations: 0.

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