Ticket #4622 (new)

Opened 3 months ago

Become part of the crypto-community!

Reported by: "Blockchain" <Cryptocurrencies@…> Owned by:
Priority: normal Milestone: 2.11
Component: none Version: 3.8.0
Severity: medium Keywords:
Cc: Language:
Patch status: Platform:


Become part of the crypto-community!



Leafcutter ants have very specific roles in taking care of the fungal garden and dumping the refuse. Waste management is a key role for each colony's longevity. The necrotrophic parasitic fungus Escovopsis threatens the ants' food source and thus is a constant danger to the ants. The waste transporters and waste-heap workers are the older, more dispensable leafcutter ants, ensuring the healthier and younger ants can work on the fungal garden. The Atta colombica species, unusually for the Attine tribe, have an external waste heap. Waste transporters take the waste, which consists of used substrate and discarded fungus, to the waste heap. Once dropped off at the refuse dump, the heap workers organise the waste and constantly shuffle it around to aid decomposition. A compelling observation of A. colombica was the dead ants placed around the perimeter of the waste heap.

In addition to feeding the fungal garden with foraged food, mainly consisting of leaves, it is protected from Escovopsis by the antibiotic secretions of Actinobacteria (genus Pseudonocardia). This mutualistic micro-organism lives in the metapleural glands of the ant. Actinobacteria are responsible for producing the majority of the world's antibiotics today
When the ants are out collecting leaves, they are at risk of attack by some species of phorid flies, parasitoids that lay eggs into the crevices of the worker ants' heads. Often, a minim will sit on a worker ant and ward off any attack.

Also, the wrong type of fungus can grow during cultivation. Escovopsis, a highly virulent fungus, has the potential to devastate an ant garden, as it is horizontally transmitted. Escovopsis was cultured, during colony foundation, in 6.6% of colonies. However, in one- to two-year-old colonies, almost 60% had Escovopsis growing in the fungal garden.

Nevertheless, leafcutter ants have many adaptive mechanisms to recognize and control infections by Escovopsis and other micro-organisms. The most common known behaviors rely on workers reducing the number

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