CHEMOECOLOGY

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 29–36

Colonial recognition of fungus in the fungus-growing ant Acromyrmex subterraneus subterraneus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

  • Ana M. M. Viana
  • Anne Frézard
  • Christian Malosse
  • Terezinha M. C. Della Lucia
  • Christine Errard
  • Alain Lenoir

DOI: 10.1007/PL00001829

Cite this article as:
Viana, A., Frézard, A., Malosse, C. et al. Chemoecology (2001) 11: 29. doi:10.1007/PL00001829

Summary.

Leaf cutting ants live in symbiosis with a basidiomycete fungus that is exploited as a source of nutrients for the ant larvae. Tests of fungus transport demonstrated that Acromyrmex subterraneus subterraneus workers discriminate concolonial fungus from alien fungus, and rejected the latter. Larvae and pupae of the ant were used as controls. Chemical analysis of the fungus revealed a great similarity between its hydrocarbon profile and that found on the ant brood. Experiments with lures showed that chemical extracts from the fungus are responsible for this discrimination process. Moreover, the presence of brood inside the fungus seemed to be important for discrimination of the fungus by workers. Resident workers accepted concolonial broodless fungus less than concolonial fungus inoculated with brood odor. Fungus seems to acquire colonial odor passively, simply by contact with the brood. The impact of fungus volume present in the nest on closure of the colony is discussed. We show here for the first time the importance of a symbiotic vegetal organism in colonial recognition in social insects.

Key words. Leaf-cutting ants – symbiosis-colony odor – fungus 

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel, 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana M. M. Viana
    • 1
  • Anne Frézard
    • 2
  • Christian Malosse
    • 3
  • Terezinha M. C. Della Lucia
    • 4
  • Christine Errard
    • 2
  • Alain Lenoir
    • 2
  1. 1.LEEC, CNRS, Université Paris 13, 93430 Villetaneuse, FR and Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense, Campos dos Goytacases, RJ, BrazilBR
  2. 2.IRBI, CNRS UPRES A 6035, Faculté des Sciences, Parc de Grandmont, F-37200 Tours, France, e-mail: lenoir@univ-tours.frFR
  3. 3.Laboratoire de Phytopharmacie, INRA, Route de St Cyr, F-78026 Versailles Cedex, FranceFR
  4. 4.Universidade Federal de Viçosa, 36571-000, Viçosa, MG, BrazilBR