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Abstract Detail

Mycological Section

Kumlien, Aaron Carr [1], Volk, Thomas [2].

Worlds’s First Farmers.

The purpose of this poster is to educate in a suitable classroom environment. Domestication is considered one of the earliest and greatest steps in human history, occurring over 10,000 years ago. This pales in comparison to the Attine ants, which have cultivated fungi for millions of years. The ant colonies cultivate various species of Leptiota (family Agaricaceae), and nurture the fungus by collecting leaves and feeding them to the fungus. The ants are obligate fungal cultivators, and the colony depends on the fungus for nutrition. Previous models for this symbiosis showed the fungi as serving a passive role as completely domesticated, but recent discoveries show that the fungus may not be under complete control. The ants must also protect their crop from being destroyed by a very particular pathogen, Escovopsis weberi. This pathogen is an ascomycete and tends to compete with the cultivated fungus for nutrients. If not removed, the ants may lose their food source and the colony will fail. To combat this infection the ants have adapted to carry a sort of chemical weapon to assault the pathogen. Streptomyces species growing on the ants provide antimicrobials that effectively remove the fungal pathogen from the colony. There may also be other bacteria involved, such as nitrogen fixing bacteria in the soils, which contribute to the growth of the fungus. The fixing of nitrogen is an essential process that provides a rich source of nitrogen for the fungus. It is unclear how many organisms are involved in producing a well established colony, but each organism has an essential role in keeping balance.

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1 - University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, 1725 State St., Biology, La Crosse, WI, 54601, United States
2 - University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, Biology, 1725 State St., La Crosse, WI, 54601, United States

none specified

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Hall D/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PMY041
Abstract ID:1127
Candidate for Awards:None

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