The infrabuccal pellet piles of fungus-growing ants

Ainslie E.F. Little, Takahiro Murakami, Ulrich G. Mueller, Cameron R. Currie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fungus-growing ants (Attini) live in an obligate mutualism with the fungi they cultivate for food. Because of the obligate nature of this relationship, the success of the ants is directly dependent on their ability to grow healthy fungus gardens. Attine ants have evolved complex disease management strategies to reduce their garden's exposure to potential parasitic microbes, to prevent the establishment of infection in their gardens, and to remove infected garden sections. The infrabuccal pocket, a filtering device located in the oral cavity of all ants, is an integral part of the mechanisms that leaf-cutter ants use to prevent the invasion and spread of general microbial parasites and the specific fungal-garden parasite Escovopsis. Fungus-growing ants carefully groom their garden, collecting general debris and pathogenic spores of Escovopsis in their infrabuccal pocket, the contents of which are later expelled in dump chambers inside the nest or externally. In this study we examined how a phylogenetically diverse collection of attine ants treat their infrabuccal pellets. Unlike leaf-cutters that deposit their infrabuccal pellets directly in refuse piles, ants of the more basal attine lineages stack their infrabuccal pellets in piles located close to their gardens, and a separate caste of workers is devoted to the construction, management, and eventual disposal of these piles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-562
Number of pages5
JournalNaturwissenschaften
Volume90
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

ant
pellets
Formicidae
pile
garden
fungus
gardens
fungi
cutters
parasite
parasites
mutualism
caste
refuse
spore
leaves
mouth
nest
disease control
cavity

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

The infrabuccal pellet piles of fungus-growing ants. / Little, Ainslie E.F.; Murakami, Takahiro; Mueller, Ulrich G.; Currie, Cameron R.

In: Naturwissenschaften, Vol. 90, No. 12, 01.12.2003, p. 558-562.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Little, Ainslie E.F. ; Murakami, Takahiro ; Mueller, Ulrich G. ; Currie, Cameron R. / The infrabuccal pellet piles of fungus-growing ants. In: Naturwissenschaften. 2003 ; Vol. 90, No. 12. pp. 558-562.
@article{e12b4419b2264376b88a6e8be80e21d8,
title = "The infrabuccal pellet piles of fungus-growing ants",
abstract = "Fungus-growing ants (Attini) live in an obligate mutualism with the fungi they cultivate for food. Because of the obligate nature of this relationship, the success of the ants is directly dependent on their ability to grow healthy fungus gardens. Attine ants have evolved complex disease management strategies to reduce their garden's exposure to potential parasitic microbes, to prevent the establishment of infection in their gardens, and to remove infected garden sections. The infrabuccal pocket, a filtering device located in the oral cavity of all ants, is an integral part of the mechanisms that leaf-cutter ants use to prevent the invasion and spread of general microbial parasites and the specific fungal-garden parasite Escovopsis. Fungus-growing ants carefully groom their garden, collecting general debris and pathogenic spores of Escovopsis in their infrabuccal pocket, the contents of which are later expelled in dump chambers inside the nest or externally. In this study we examined how a phylogenetically diverse collection of attine ants treat their infrabuccal pellets. Unlike leaf-cutters that deposit their infrabuccal pellets directly in refuse piles, ants of the more basal attine lineages stack their infrabuccal pellets in piles located close to their gardens, and a separate caste of workers is devoted to the construction, management, and eventual disposal of these piles.",
author = "Little, {Ainslie E.F.} and Takahiro Murakami and Mueller, {Ulrich G.} and Currie, {Cameron R.}",
year = "2003",
month = "12",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1007/s00114-003-0480-x",
language = "English",
volume = "90",
pages = "558--562",
journal = "Die Naturwissenschaften",
issn = "0028-1042",
publisher = "Springer Verlag",
number = "12",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The infrabuccal pellet piles of fungus-growing ants

AU - Little, Ainslie E.F.

AU - Murakami, Takahiro

AU - Mueller, Ulrich G.

AU - Currie, Cameron R.

PY - 2003/12/1

Y1 - 2003/12/1

N2 - Fungus-growing ants (Attini) live in an obligate mutualism with the fungi they cultivate for food. Because of the obligate nature of this relationship, the success of the ants is directly dependent on their ability to grow healthy fungus gardens. Attine ants have evolved complex disease management strategies to reduce their garden's exposure to potential parasitic microbes, to prevent the establishment of infection in their gardens, and to remove infected garden sections. The infrabuccal pocket, a filtering device located in the oral cavity of all ants, is an integral part of the mechanisms that leaf-cutter ants use to prevent the invasion and spread of general microbial parasites and the specific fungal-garden parasite Escovopsis. Fungus-growing ants carefully groom their garden, collecting general debris and pathogenic spores of Escovopsis in their infrabuccal pocket, the contents of which are later expelled in dump chambers inside the nest or externally. In this study we examined how a phylogenetically diverse collection of attine ants treat their infrabuccal pellets. Unlike leaf-cutters that deposit their infrabuccal pellets directly in refuse piles, ants of the more basal attine lineages stack their infrabuccal pellets in piles located close to their gardens, and a separate caste of workers is devoted to the construction, management, and eventual disposal of these piles.

AB - Fungus-growing ants (Attini) live in an obligate mutualism with the fungi they cultivate for food. Because of the obligate nature of this relationship, the success of the ants is directly dependent on their ability to grow healthy fungus gardens. Attine ants have evolved complex disease management strategies to reduce their garden's exposure to potential parasitic microbes, to prevent the establishment of infection in their gardens, and to remove infected garden sections. The infrabuccal pocket, a filtering device located in the oral cavity of all ants, is an integral part of the mechanisms that leaf-cutter ants use to prevent the invasion and spread of general microbial parasites and the specific fungal-garden parasite Escovopsis. Fungus-growing ants carefully groom their garden, collecting general debris and pathogenic spores of Escovopsis in their infrabuccal pocket, the contents of which are later expelled in dump chambers inside the nest or externally. In this study we examined how a phylogenetically diverse collection of attine ants treat their infrabuccal pellets. Unlike leaf-cutters that deposit their infrabuccal pellets directly in refuse piles, ants of the more basal attine lineages stack their infrabuccal pellets in piles located close to their gardens, and a separate caste of workers is devoted to the construction, management, and eventual disposal of these piles.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0347416951&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0347416951&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s00114-003-0480-x

DO - 10.1007/s00114-003-0480-x

M3 - Article

C2 - 14676952

AN - SCOPUS:0347416951

VL - 90

SP - 558

EP - 562

JO - Die Naturwissenschaften

JF - Die Naturwissenschaften

SN - 0028-1042

IS - 12

ER -