Biology of the relict fungus-farming ant Apterostigma megacephala Lattke, including descriptions of the male, gyne, and larva

J. Sosa-Calvo, A. Ješovnik, C. T. Lopes, A. Rodrigues, Christian Rabeling, M. Bacci, H. L. Vasconcelos, T. R. Schultz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Fungus-farming “attine” ant agriculture consists of five distinct agricultural systems characterized by a remarkable symbiont fidelity in which five phylogenetic groups of ants faithfully cultivate five phylogenetic groups of fungi. Across-system garden switching experiments result in colony decline and death, indicating that attine ant-fungus symbiont fidelity is enforced by poorly understood biological constraints. The most dramatic violation of this pattern of symbiont fidelity occurs in the relict species Apterostigma megacephala, the only lower-attine ant known to cultivate a higher-attine fungus. Apterostigma megacephala is the sole surviving representative of an ancient lineage that diverged from all other Apterostigma fungus-farming ants ~39 million years ago, yet it cultivates Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, a highly domesticated fungal species that originated in the gardens of the recently evolved leaf-cutting ants 8–11 million years ago. Understanding the biology of A. megacephala, therefore, may provide important clues about the biological mechanisms that constrain the otherwise seemingly obligate ant-fungus associations that characterize attine ant agriculture. Here, based on field work in the Floresta Nacional de Carajás in the state of Pará in Brazil, we report the previously unknown biology of A. megacephala, including nest architecture, colony demography, foraging behavior, and the morphologies of the previously undescribed gyne, male, and larva.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-346
Number of pages18
JournalInsectes Sociaux
Volume64
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

Fingerprint

Apterostigma megacephala
ant
Formicidae
farming systems
fungus
larva
Biological Sciences
fungi
larvae
symbionts
symbiont
gardens
Apterostigma
garden
Leucoagaricus
agriculture
leaf-cutting ants
relict species
Brazil
phylogenetics

Keywords

  • Attini
  • Coevolution
  • Leucoagaricus gongylophorus
  • Nest architecture
  • Symbiosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science

Cite this

Biology of the relict fungus-farming ant Apterostigma megacephala Lattke, including descriptions of the male, gyne, and larva. / Sosa-Calvo, J.; Ješovnik, A.; Lopes, C. T.; Rodrigues, A.; Rabeling, Christian; Bacci, M.; Vasconcelos, H. L.; Schultz, T. R.

In: Insectes Sociaux, Vol. 64, No. 3, 01.08.2017, p. 329-346.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Sosa-Calvo, J, Ješovnik, A, Lopes, CT, Rodrigues, A, Rabeling, C, Bacci, M, Vasconcelos, HL & Schultz, TR 2017, 'Biology of the relict fungus-farming ant Apterostigma megacephala Lattke, including descriptions of the male, gyne, and larva', Insectes Sociaux, vol. 64, no. 3, pp. 329-346. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00040-017-0550-2
Sosa-Calvo, J. ; Ješovnik, A. ; Lopes, C. T. ; Rodrigues, A. ; Rabeling, Christian ; Bacci, M. ; Vasconcelos, H. L. ; Schultz, T. R. / Biology of the relict fungus-farming ant Apterostigma megacephala Lattke, including descriptions of the male, gyne, and larva. In: Insectes Sociaux. 2017 ; Vol. 64, No. 3. pp. 329-346.
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