Insights into the microbial world associated with ants
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- Zientz, E., Feldhaar, H., Stoll, S. et al. Arch Microbiol (2005) 184: 199. doi:10.1007/s00203-005-0041-0
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Insects are among the most successful animals of the world in terms of species richness as well as abundance. Their biomass exceeds that of mammals by far. Among insects, ants are of particular interest not only because of their enormous ecological role in many terrestrial ecosystems, but also because they have developed an impressive behavioural repertoire. In fact, a key feature of the evolutionary success of ants is their ability to form complex societies with division of labour among individuals in a colony belonging to different castes such as workers and soldiers. In addition to these complex social interactions of ants, they have shown an extraordinary capacity to build up close associations with other organisms such as other insects, plants, fungi and bacteria. In the present review we attempt to provide an overview of the various symbiotic interactions that ants have developed with microorganisms.