Soluble Compounds of Filamentous Fungi Harm the Symbiotic Fungus of Leafcutter Ants
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Chemical compounds are key to understand symbiotic interactions. In the leafcutter ant-microbe symbiosis a plethora of filamentous fungi continuously gain access the ant colonies through plant substrate collected by workers. Many filamentous fungi are considered transient in attine ant colonies, however, their real ecological role in this environment still remains unclear. A possible role of these microorganisms is the antagonism towards Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, the mutualistic fungus that serve as food for several leafcutter ant species. Here, we showed the antagonism of filamentous fungi isolated from different sources, and the negative impacts of their metabolites on the growth of the ant-fungal cultivar. Our results demonstrate that the chemical compounds produced by filamentous fungi can harm the mutualistic fungus of leafcutter ants.
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