A survey of the filamentous fungi other than the symbiotic one found in association with Atta sexdens rubropilosa colonies was carried out. Different fungal species (27 taxa) were isolated a few days after treating the workers with toxic baits (sulfluramid; Mirex-S), from 40 laboratory and 20 field nests. Syncephalastrum racemosum (54%) and Escovopsis weberi (21%), Trichoderma harzianum (38%) and Fusarium oxysporum (23%) were the prevalent species in laboratory and field nests, respectively. Acremonium kiliense, Acremonium strictum, E. weberi, F. oxysporum, Fusarium solani, Moniliella suaveolens and T. harzianum were found in both nests' groups. We revealed that many filamentous fungi can co-exist in a dormant state inside the nests of these insects and some of them appear to be tightly associated with this environment.
Fire ants are well-known by their aggressive stinging behavior, causing many stinging incidents of medical importance. The limited availability of fire ant venom for scientific and clinical uses has restricted, up to now, the knowledge about the biochemistry, immunology, and pharmacology of these venoms. For this study, S. invicta venom was obtained commercially and used for proteomic characterization. For this purpose, the combination of gel-based and gel-free proteomic strategies was used to assign the proteomic profile of the venom from the fire ant S. invicta. This experimental approach permitted the identification of 46 proteins, which were organized into four different groups according to their potential role in fire ant venom: true venom components, housekeeping proteins, body muscle proteins, and proteins involved in chemical communication. The active venom components that may not present toxic roles were classified into three subgroups according to their potential functions: self-venom protection, colony asepsis, and chemical communication. Meanwhile, the proteins classified as true toxins, based on their functions after being injected into the victims' bodies by the fire ants, were classified in five other subgroups: proteins influencing the homeostasis of the victims, neurotoxins, proteins that promote venom diffusion, proteins that cause tissue damage/inflammation, and allergens.
BackgroundSymbiotic relationships between insects and bacteria are found across almost all insect orders, including Hymenoptera. However there are still many remaining questions about these associations including what factors drive host-associated bacterial composition. To better understand the evolutionary significance of this association in nature, further studies addressing a diversity of hosts across locations and evolutionary history are necessary. Ants of the genus Polyrhachis (spiny ants) are distributed across the Old World and exhibit generalist diets and habits. Using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and bioinformatics tools, this study explores the microbial community of >80 species of Polyrhachis distributed across the Old World and compares the microbiota of samples and related hosts across different biogeographic locations and in the context of their phylogenetic history.ResultsThe predominant bacteria across samples were Enterobacteriaceae (Blochmannia - with likely many new strains), followed by Wolbachia (with multiple strains), Lactobacillus, Thiotrichaceae, Acinetobacter, Nocardia, Sodalis, and others. We recovered some exclusive strains of Enterobacteriaceae as specific to some subgenera of Polyrhachis, corroborating the idea of coevolution between host and bacteria for this bacterial group. Our correlation results (partial mantel and mantel tests) found that host phylogeny can influence the overall bacterial community, but that geographic location had no effect.ConclusionsOur work is revealing important aspects of the biology of hosts in structuring the diversity and abundance of these host-associated bacterial communities including the role of host phylogeny and shared evolutionary history.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-017-0945-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Leaf-cutting ants of the genera Atta and Acromyrmex (tribe Attini) are symbiotic with basidiomycete fungi of the genus Leucoagaricus (tribe Leucocoprineae), which they cultivate on vegetable matter inside their nests. We determined the variation of the 28S, 18S, and 5.8S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) gene loci and the rapidly evolving internal transcribed spacers 1 and 2 (ITS1 and ITS2) of 15 sympatric and allopatric fungi associated with colonies of 11 species of leafcutter ants living up to 2,600 km apart in Brazil. We found that the fungal rDNA and ITS sequences from different species of ants were identical (or nearly identical) to each other, whereas 10 GenBank Leucoagaricus species showed higher ITS variation. Our findings suggest that Atta and Acromyrmex leafcutters living in geographic sites that are very distant from each other cultivate a single fungal species made up of closely related lineages of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus. We discuss the strikingly high similarity in the ITS1 and ITS2 regions of the Atta and Acromyrmex symbiotic L. gongylophorus studied by us, in contrast to the lower similarity displayed by their non-symbiotic counterparts. We suggest that the similarity of our L. gongylophorus isolates is an indication of the recent association of the fungus with these ants, and propose that both the intense lateral transmission of fungal material within leafcutter nests and the selection of more adapted fungal strains are involved in the homogenization of the symbiotic fungal stock.
The focus of this study was the identification of compounds from plant extracts for use in crop protection. This paper reports on the toxic activity of fractions of leaf extracts of Ricinus communis L (Euphorbiaceae) and isolated active compounds in the leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens rubropilosa Forel and its symbiotic fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus (Singer) Möller. The main compounds responsible for activity against the fungus and ant in leaf extracts of R communis were found to be fatty acids for the former and ricinine for the ants.
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