Fungus-growing Allomerus ants are associated with antibiotic-producing actinobacteria
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Fungus-growing attine ants use natural-product antibiotics produced by mutualist actinobacteria as ‘weedkillers’ in their fungal gardens. Here we report for the first time that fungus-growing Allomerus ants, which lie outside the tribe Attini, are associated with antifungal-producing actinobacteria, which offer them protection against non-cultivar fungi isolated from their ant-plants.
KeywordsFungus-growing ants Allomerus ants Insect fungiculture Ant-bacteria symbioses Streptomyces Amycolatopsis
We acknowledge financial support from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Medical Research Council (grant number G0801721). MIH also acknowledges support from a Research Councils UK Fellowship, DWY received support from the Yunnan provincial government (20080A001) and Chinese Academy of Sciences (0902281081) and JO received support from the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR-06-JCJC-01909-01) and a fellowship from the Fondation pour la Recherche sur la Biodiversité (AAP-IN-2009-050). We thank the Hutchings group members for helpful discussions concerning this manuscript and Paul Thomas in the Henry Wellcome Imaging Laboratory at UEA for assistance with light microscopy.
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