Susceptibility of the ant-cultivated fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus (Agaricales : Basidiomycota) towards microfungi
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The aim of this study was to select virulent strains of microfungi against Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, a symbiotic fungus cultivated by leaf-cutting ants. The results from in vitro assays showed that microfungal strains had a variable and significant impact on the colony development of L. gongylophorus. Specifically, Trichoderma harzianum, Escovopsis weberi CBS 810.71 and E. weberi A088 were more effective, inhibiting the L. gongylophorus colonies by 75, 68 and 67%, respectively (P < 0.05) after 15 days. Strain E. weberi A086 and Acremonium kiliense were less effective: 43 and 26%, respectively (P < 0.05). In spite of the current negative perspective of a microbiological control approach for these ants, the present work discusses the possibility of using mycopathogenic fungi for the control of these insects, and points out the importance of encouraging more studies in this area.