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Nest architecture, fungus gardens, queen, males and larvae of the fungus-growing ant Mycetagroicus inflatus Brandão & Mayhé-Nunes.

Jesovnik A, Sosa-Calvo J, Lopes CT, Vasconcelos HL, Schultz TR - Insectes Soc (2013)

Bottom Line: Like M. cerradensis, the only other species in the genus for which nesting biology is known, the garden chambers of M. inflatus are unusually deep and the garden is most likely relocated vertically in rainy and dry seasons.Due to the proximity of nests to the Araguaia River, it is likely that even the uppermost chambers and nest entrances of M. inflatus are submerged during the rainy season.Most remarkably, all three examined colonies of M. inflatus cultivate the same fungal species as their congener, M. cerradensis, over 1,000 km away, raising the possibility of long-term symbiont fidelity spanning speciation events within the genus.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Entomology, Maryland Center for Systematic Entomology, University of Maryland, 4112 Plant Science Bldg., College Park, MD 20742 USA ; Department of Entomology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, MRC 188 CE517, Washington, DC 20013-7012 USA.

ABSTRACT
All known fungus-growing ants (tribe Attini) are obligately symbiotic with their cultivated fungi. The fungal cultivars of "lower" attine ants are facultative symbionts, capable of living apart from ants, whereas the fungal cultivars of "higher" attine ants, including leaf-cutting genera Atta and Acromyrmex, are highly specialized, obligate symbionts. Since higher attine ants and fungi are derived from lower attine ants and fungi, understanding the evolutionary transition from lower to higher attine agriculture requires understanding the historical sequence of change in both ants and fungi. The biology of the poorly known ant genus Mycetagroicus is of special interest in this regard because it occupies a phylogenetic position intermediate between lower and higher ant agriculture. Here, based on the excavations of four nests in Pará, Brazil, we report the first biological data for the recently described species Mycetagroicus inflatus, including the first descriptions of Mycetagroicus males and larvae. Like M. cerradensis, the only other species in the genus for which nesting biology is known, the garden chambers of M. inflatus are unusually deep and the garden is most likely relocated vertically in rainy and dry seasons. Due to the proximity of nests to the Araguaia River, it is likely that even the uppermost chambers and nest entrances of M. inflatus are submerged during the rainy season. Most remarkably, all three examined colonies of M. inflatus cultivate the same fungal species as their congener, M. cerradensis, over 1,000 km away, raising the possibility of long-term symbiont fidelity spanning speciation events within the genus.

No MeSH data available.


Mycetagroicus inflatus nest: a Illustration of nest TRS121006-07. b Photo of excavated nest JSC121006-02. c Photo of chamber 1 of nest TRS121009-02 showing the many holes punctuating the chamber wall
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Fig1: Mycetagroicus inflatus nest: a Illustration of nest TRS121006-07. b Photo of excavated nest JSC121006-02. c Photo of chamber 1 of nest TRS121009-02 showing the many holes punctuating the chamber wall

Mentions: Four nests of Mycetagroicus inflatus were excavated. All nests had a single, simple, very inconspicuous entrance hole approximately 2–3 mm in diameter. In no case was the nest entrance surrounded by a mound of excavated soil particles, differing in this regard from entrances of the congeneric M. cerradensis (Solomon et al., 2011). Nests contained 2–4 chambers, which varied from 2–8 cm in width. The deepest chamber encountered was 310 cm deep and contained garden and ants, but no queen. The shallowest chamber encountered was 22 cm deep and contained no fungus or ants, only loose sand. The shallowest chamber that contained ants was 68 cm deep, and the shallowest chamber that contained fungus garden was 75 cm deep. Tunnels connecting chambers were observed in some cases and were very straight and perpendicular to the surface (Fig. 1). The walls of two nest chambers, from nests TRS121009-01 and -02, were punctuated with multiple holes (Fig. 1c). Colony sizes ranged from approximately 30–100 workers.Fig. 1


Nest architecture, fungus gardens, queen, males and larvae of the fungus-growing ant Mycetagroicus inflatus Brandão & Mayhé-Nunes.

Jesovnik A, Sosa-Calvo J, Lopes CT, Vasconcelos HL, Schultz TR - Insectes Soc (2013)

Mycetagroicus inflatus nest: a Illustration of nest TRS121006-07. b Photo of excavated nest JSC121006-02. c Photo of chamber 1 of nest TRS121009-02 showing the many holes punctuating the chamber wall
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3824567&req=5

Fig1: Mycetagroicus inflatus nest: a Illustration of nest TRS121006-07. b Photo of excavated nest JSC121006-02. c Photo of chamber 1 of nest TRS121009-02 showing the many holes punctuating the chamber wall
Mentions: Four nests of Mycetagroicus inflatus were excavated. All nests had a single, simple, very inconspicuous entrance hole approximately 2–3 mm in diameter. In no case was the nest entrance surrounded by a mound of excavated soil particles, differing in this regard from entrances of the congeneric M. cerradensis (Solomon et al., 2011). Nests contained 2–4 chambers, which varied from 2–8 cm in width. The deepest chamber encountered was 310 cm deep and contained garden and ants, but no queen. The shallowest chamber encountered was 22 cm deep and contained no fungus or ants, only loose sand. The shallowest chamber that contained ants was 68 cm deep, and the shallowest chamber that contained fungus garden was 75 cm deep. Tunnels connecting chambers were observed in some cases and were very straight and perpendicular to the surface (Fig. 1). The walls of two nest chambers, from nests TRS121009-01 and -02, were punctuated with multiple holes (Fig. 1c). Colony sizes ranged from approximately 30–100 workers.Fig. 1

Bottom Line: Like M. cerradensis, the only other species in the genus for which nesting biology is known, the garden chambers of M. inflatus are unusually deep and the garden is most likely relocated vertically in rainy and dry seasons.Due to the proximity of nests to the Araguaia River, it is likely that even the uppermost chambers and nest entrances of M. inflatus are submerged during the rainy season.Most remarkably, all three examined colonies of M. inflatus cultivate the same fungal species as their congener, M. cerradensis, over 1,000 km away, raising the possibility of long-term symbiont fidelity spanning speciation events within the genus.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Entomology, Maryland Center for Systematic Entomology, University of Maryland, 4112 Plant Science Bldg., College Park, MD 20742 USA ; Department of Entomology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, MRC 188 CE517, Washington, DC 20013-7012 USA.

ABSTRACT
All known fungus-growing ants (tribe Attini) are obligately symbiotic with their cultivated fungi. The fungal cultivars of "lower" attine ants are facultative symbionts, capable of living apart from ants, whereas the fungal cultivars of "higher" attine ants, including leaf-cutting genera Atta and Acromyrmex, are highly specialized, obligate symbionts. Since higher attine ants and fungi are derived from lower attine ants and fungi, understanding the evolutionary transition from lower to higher attine agriculture requires understanding the historical sequence of change in both ants and fungi. The biology of the poorly known ant genus Mycetagroicus is of special interest in this regard because it occupies a phylogenetic position intermediate between lower and higher ant agriculture. Here, based on the excavations of four nests in Pará, Brazil, we report the first biological data for the recently described species Mycetagroicus inflatus, including the first descriptions of Mycetagroicus males and larvae. Like M. cerradensis, the only other species in the genus for which nesting biology is known, the garden chambers of M. inflatus are unusually deep and the garden is most likely relocated vertically in rainy and dry seasons. Due to the proximity of nests to the Araguaia River, it is likely that even the uppermost chambers and nest entrances of M. inflatus are submerged during the rainy season. Most remarkably, all three examined colonies of M. inflatus cultivate the same fungal species as their congener, M. cerradensis, over 1,000 km away, raising the possibility of long-term symbiont fidelity spanning speciation events within the genus.

No MeSH data available.