The Leaf-Cutting Ant–plant Interaction from a Microbial Ecology Perspective

  • Adriana Abril
Part of the Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology book series (COLE, volume 16)


Herbivory is a key ecological process in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. The interaction between plants and herbivores is responsible for energy and nutrient flow, population regulation, and the shaping of vegetation physiognomy and species composition (Barbour et al., 1999). Digestion of plant material is a complex chemical process that in some cases goes beyond the metabolic capacity of multicellular organisms. A key metabolic bottleneck for multicellular organisms is their lack of the enzyme set required for degradation of those cell wall components (cellulose, lignin) that provide structural strength to terrestrial plants (Robbins, 1993). This limitation has been solved by some herbivores through evolutionary processes that led to interactions between herbivores and microorganisms, because microorganisms are capable of performing metabolic processes, such as decomposition of structural biopolymers, nitrogen fixation, and oxidation of inorganic compounds (Paul and Clark, 1996).


Soluble Compound Fungus Garden Biological Fixation Fungus Interaction Vegetation Physiognomy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Microbiología Agrícola. Facultad de Ciencias AgropecuariasUniversidad Nacional de CórdobaCórdobaArgentina

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