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Sample records for leaf-cutting ant acromyrmex

  1. Foraging of Psilocybe basidiocarps by the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex lobicornis in Santa Fé, Argentina.

    PubMed

    Masiulionis, Virginia E; Weber, Roland Ws; Pagnocca, Fernando C

    2013-12-01

    It is generally accepted that material collected by leaf-cutting ants of the genus Acromyrmex consists solely of plant matter, which is used in the nest as substrate for a symbiotic fungus providing nutrition to the ants. There is only one previous report of any leaf-cutting ant foraging directly on fungal basidiocarps. Basidiocarps of Psilocybe coprophila growing on cow dung were actively collected by workers of Acromyrmex lobicornis in Santa Fé province, Argentina. During this behaviour the ants displayed typical signals of recognition and continuously recruited other foragers to the task. Basidiocarps of different stages of maturity were being transported into the nest by particular groups of workers, while other workers collected plant material. The collection of mature basidiocarps with viable spores by leaf-cutting ants in nature adds substance to theories relating to the origin of fungiculture in these highly specialized social insects.

  2. Caste-specific RNA editomes in the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior

    PubMed Central

    Li, Qiye; Wang, Zongji; Lian, Jinmin; Schiøtt, Morten; Jin, Lijun; Zhang, Pei; Zhang, Yanyan; Nygaard, Sanne; Peng, Zhiyu; Zhou, Yang; Deng, Yuan; Zhang, Wenwei; Boomsma, Jacobus J.; Zhang, Guojie

    2014-01-01

    Eusocial insects have evolved the capacity to generate adults with distinct morphological, reproductive and behavioural phenotypes from the same genome. Recent studies suggest that RNA editing might enhance the diversity of gene products at the post-transcriptional level, particularly to induce functional changes in the nervous system. Using head samples from the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior, we compare RNA editomes across eusocial castes, identifying ca. 11,000 RNA editing sites in gynes, large workers and small workers. Those editing sites map to 800 genes functionally enriched for neurotransmission, circadian rhythm, temperature response, RNA splicing and carboxylic acid biosynthesis. Most A. echinatior editing sites are species specific, but 8–23% are conserved across ant subfamilies and likely to have been important for the evolution of eusociality in ants. The level of editing varies for the same site between castes, suggesting that RNA editing might be a general mechanism that shapes caste behaviour in ants. PMID:25266559

  3. Partial incompatibility between ants and symbiotic fungi in two sympatric species of Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Bot, A N; Rehner, S A; Boomsma, J J

    2001-10-01

    We investigate the nature and duration of incompatibility between certain combinations of Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants and symbiotic fungi, taken from sympatric colonies of the same or a related species. Ant-fungus incompatibility appeared to be largely independent of the ant species involved, but could be explained partly by genetic differences among the fungus cultivars. Following current theoretical considerations, we develop a hypothesis, originally proposed by S. A. Frank, that the observed incompatibilities are ultimately due to competitive interactions between genetically different fungal lineages, and we predict that the ants should have evolved mechanisms to prevent such competition between cultivars within a single garden. This requires that the ants are able to recognize unfamiliar fungi, and we show that this is indeed the case. Amplified fragment length polymorphism genotyping further shows that the two sympatric Acromyrmex species share each other's major lineages of cultivar, confirming that horizontal transfer does occasionally take place. We argue and provide some evidence that chemical substances produced by the fungus garden may mediate recognition of alien fungi by the ants. We show that incompatibility between ants and transplanted, genetically different cultivars is indeed due to active killing of the novel cultivar by the ants. This incompatibility disappears when ants are force-fed the novel cultivar for about a week, a result that is consistent with our hypothesis of recognition induced by the resident fungus and eventual replacement of incompatibility compounds during force-feeding.

  4. The Thermoregulatory Function of Thatched Nests in the South American Grass-Cutting Ant, Acromyrmex heyeri

    PubMed Central

    Bollazzi, Martin; Roces, Flavio

    2010-01-01

    The construction of mound-shaped nests by ants is considered as a behavioral adaptation to low environmental temperatures, i.e., colonies achieve higher and more stables temperatures than those of the environment. Besides the well-known nests of boreal Formica wood-ants, several species of South American leaf-cutting ants of the genus Acromyrmex construct thatched nests. Acromyrmex workers import plant fragments as building material, and arrange them so as to form a thatch covering a central chamber, where the fungus garden is located. Thus, the degree of thermoregulation attained by the fungus garden inside the thatched nest largely depends on how the thatch affects the thermal relations between the fungus and the environment. This work was aimed at studying the thermoregulatory function of the thatched nests built by the grass-cutting ant Acromyrmex heyeri Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae). Nest and environmental temperatures were measured as a function of solar radiation on the long-term. The thermal diffusivity of the nest thatch was measured and compared to that of the surrounding soil, in order to assess the influence of the building material on the nest's thermoregulatory ability. The results showed that the average core temperature of thatched nests was higher than that of the environment, but remained below values harmful for the fungus. This thermoregulation was brought about by the low thermal diffusivity of the nest thatch built by workers with plant fragments, instead of the readily-available soil particles that have a higher thermal diffusivity. The thatch prevented diurnal nest overheating by the incoming solar radiation, and avoided losses of the accumulated daily heat into the cold air during the night. The adaptive value of thatching behavior in Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants occurring in the southernmost distribution range is discussed. PMID:20883129

  5. The Role of Symbiont Genetic Distance and Potential Adaptability in Host Preference Towards Pseudonocardia Symbionts in Acromyrmex Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Poulsen, Michael; Maynard, Janielle; Roland, Damien L; Currie, Cameron R

    2011-01-01

    Fungus-growing ants display symbiont preference in behavioral assays, both towards the fungus they cultivate for food and Actinobacteria they maintain on their cuticle for antibiotic production against parasites. These Actinobacteria, genus Pseudonocardia Henssen (Pseudonocardiacea: Actinomycetales), help defend the ants' fungal mutualist from specialized parasites. In Acromyrmex Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) leaf-cutting ants, individual colonies maintain either a single or a few strains of Pseudonocardia, and the symbiont is primarily vertically transmitted between generations by colony-founding queens. A recent report found that Acromyrmex workers are able to differentiate between their native Pseudonocardia strain and non-native strains isolated from sympatric or allopatric Acromyrmex species, and show preference for their native strain. Here we explore worker preference when presented with two non-native strains, elucidating the role of genetic distance on preference between strains and Pseudonocardia origin. Our findings suggest that ants tend to prefer bacteria more closely related to their native bacterium and that genetic similarity is probably more important than whether symbionts are ant-associated or free-living. Preliminary findings suggest that when continued exposure to a novel Pseudonocardia strain occurs, ant symbiont preference is potentially adaptable, with colonies apparently being able to alter symbiont preference over time. These findings are discussed in relation to the role of adaptive recognition, potential ecological flexibility in symbiont preference, and more broadly, in relation to self versus non-self recognition. PMID:22225537

  6. Acromyrmex Leaf-Cutting Ants Have Simple Gut Microbiota with Nitrogen-Fixing Potential

    PubMed Central

    Zhukova, Mariya; Hansen, Lars H.; Sørensen, Søren J.; Schiøtt, Morten

    2015-01-01

    Ants and termites have independently evolved obligate fungus-farming mutualisms, but their gardening procedures are fundamentally different, as the termites predigest their plant substrate whereas the ants deposit it directly on the fungus garden. Fungus-growing termites retained diverse gut microbiota, but bacterial gut communities in fungus-growing leaf-cutting ants have not been investigated, so it is unknown whether and how they are specialized on an exclusively fungal diet. Here we characterized the gut bacterial community of Panamanian Acromyrmex species, which are dominated by only four bacterial taxa: Wolbachia, Rhizobiales, and two Entomoplasmatales taxa. We show that the Entomoplasmatales can be both intracellular and extracellular across different gut tissues, Wolbachia is mainly but not exclusively intracellular, and the Rhizobiales species is strictly extracellular and confined to the gut lumen, where it forms biofilms along the hindgut cuticle supported by an adhesive matrix of polysaccharides. Tetracycline diets eliminated the Entomoplasmatales symbionts but hardly affected Wolbachia and only moderately reduced the Rhizobiales, suggesting that the latter are protected by the biofilm matrix. We show that the Rhizobiales symbiont produces bacterial NifH proteins that have been associated with the fixation of nitrogen, suggesting that these compartmentalized hindgut symbionts alleviate nutritional constraints emanating from an exclusive fungus garden diet reared on a substrate of leaves. PMID:26048932

  7. Sperm mixing in the polyandrous leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior

    PubMed Central

    Stürup, Marlene; Nash, David R; Hughes, William O H; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2014-01-01

    The insemination of queens by sperm from multiple males (polyandry) has evolved in a number of eusocial insect lineages despite the likely costs of the behavior. The selective advantages in terms of colony fitness must therefore also be significant and there is now good evidence that polyandry increases genetic variation among workers, thereby improving the efficiency of division of labor, resistance against disease, and diluting the impact of genetically incompatible matings. However, these advantages will only be maximized if the sperm of initially discrete ejaculates are mixed when stored in queen spermathecae and used for egg fertilization in a “fair raffle.” Remarkably, however, very few studies have addressed the level of sperm mixing in social insects. Here we analyzed sperm use over time in the highly polyandrous leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior. We genotyped cohorts of workers produced either 2 months apart or up to over a year apart, and batches of eggs laid up to over 2 years apart, and tested whether fluctuations in patriline distributions deviated from random. We show that the representation of father males in both egg and worker cohorts does not change over time, consistent with obligatorily polyandrous queens maximizing their fitness when workers are as genetically diverse as possible. PMID:25478149

  8. Hygienic Behavior, Liquid-Foraging, and Trophallaxis in the Leaf-Cutting Ants, Acromyrmex subterraneus and Acromyrmex octospinosus

    PubMed Central

    Richard, Freddie-Jeanne; Errard, Christine

    2009-01-01

    Neotropical leaf-cutting ants (tribe Attini) live in obligate symbiosis with fungus they culture for food. To protect themselves and their fungus garden from pathogens, they minimize the entry of microorganisms through mechanical and chemical means. In this study, focusing on the species Acromyrmex subterraneus and A. octospinosus, (Hymeoptera: Formicidae). Self- and allo-grooming behavior were quantified and it was found that A. octospinosus workers spend less time in self-grooming than A. subterraneus. In the experimental absence of fungus in A. subterraneus, the times spent in these two behaviors are not affected; however workers spend significantly more time immobile. Hygienic and trophallaxis behaviors were examined as well as the possibility that workers exchange food, and the grooming behavior of foraging and non-foraging workers were compared. Behavioral observations revealed that large workers spent more time grooming than small workers, and more than 62% of replete foragers passed collected liquid food via trophallaxis to a nestmate. However, trophallaxis was rarely observed between non-forager workers. These results suggest that trophallaxis permits the exchange of alimentary liquid between colony members, but it is not important for spreading the colony odor signature. PMID:20053118

  9. Trail pheromone of the leaf-cutting ant,Acromyrmex octospinosus (Reich), (Formicidae: Myrmicinae).

    PubMed

    Cross, J H; West, J R; Silverstein, R M; Jutsum, A R; Cherrett, J M

    1982-08-01

    The most active component of the trail pheromone of the leafcutting ant,Acromyrmex octospinosus, is methyl 4-methylpyrrole-2-carboxylate (I). Two pyrazine isomers (II) and (III) are present but inactive.

  10. Differences in Forage-Acquisition and Fungal Enzyme Activity Contribute to Niche Segregation in Panamanian Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Kooij, Pepijn W.; Liberti, Joanito; Giampoudakis, Konstantinos; Schiøtt, Morten; Boomsma, Jacobus J.

    2014-01-01

    The genera Atta and Acromyrmex are often grouped as leaf-cutting ants for pest management assessments and ecological surveys, although their mature colony sizes and foraging niches may differ substantially. Few studies have addressed such interspecific differences at the same site, which prompted us to conduct a comparative study across six sympatric leaf-cutting ant species in Central Panama. We show that foraging rates during the transition between dry and wet season differ about 60 fold between genera, but are relatively constant across species within genera. These differences appear to match overall differences in colony size, especially when Atta workers that return to their nests without leaves are assumed to carry liquid food. We confirm that Panamanian Atta specialize primarily on tree-leaves whereas Acromyrmex focus on collecting flowers and herbal leaves and that species within genera are similar in these overall foraging strategies. Species within genera tended to be spaced out over the three habitat categories that we distinguished (forest, forest edge, open grassland), but each of these habitats normally had only a single predominant Atta and Acromyrmex species. We measured activities of twelve fungus garden decomposition enzymes, belonging to the amylases, cellulases, hemicellulases, pectinases and proteinases, and show that average enzyme activity per unit of fungal mass in Atta gardens is lower than in Acromyrmex gardens. Expression profiles of fungal enzymes in Atta also appeared to be more specialized than in Acromyrmex, possibly reflecting variation in forage material. Our results suggest that species- and genus-level identities of leaf-cutting ants and habitat-specific foraging profiles may give predictable differences in the expression of fungal genes coding for decomposition enzymes. PMID:24718261

  11. Leaf-cutting ant fungi produce cell wall degrading pectinase complexes reminiscent of phytopathogenic fungi.

    PubMed

    Schiøtt, Morten; Rogowska-Wrzesinska, Adelina; Roepstorff, Peter; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2010-12-31

    Leaf-cutting (attine) ants use their own fecal material to manure fungus gardens, which consist of leaf material overgrown by hyphal threads of the basidiomycete fungus Leucocoprinus gongylophorus that lives in symbiosis with the ants. Previous studies have suggested that the fecal droplets contain proteins that are produced by the fungal symbiont to pass unharmed through the digestive system of the ants, so they can enhance new fungus garden growth. We tested this hypothesis by using proteomics methods to determine the gene sequences of fecal proteins in Acromyrmex echinatior leaf-cutting ants. Seven (21%) of the 33 identified proteins were pectinolytic enzymes that originated from the fungal symbiont and which were still active in the fecal droplets produced by the ants. We show that these enzymes are found in the fecal material only when the ants had access to fungus garden food, and we used quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis to show that the expression of six of these enzyme genes was substantially upregulated in the fungal gongylidia. These unique structures serve as food for the ants and are produced only by the evolutionarily advanced garden symbionts of higher attine ants, but not by the fungi reared by the basal lineages of this ant clade. Pectinolytic enzymes produced in the gongylidia of the fungal symbiont are ingested but not digested by Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants so that they end up in the fecal fluid and become mixed with new garden substrate. Substantial quantities of pectinolytic enzymes are typically found in pathogenic fungi that attack live plant tissue, where they are known to breach the cell walls to allow the fungal mycelium access to the cell contents. As the leaf-cutting ant symbionts are derived from fungal clades that decompose dead plant material, our results suggest that their pectinolytic enzymes represent secondarily evolved adaptations that are convergent to those normally found in phytopathogens.

  12. Laccase detoxification mediates the nutritional alliance between leaf-cutting ants and fungus-garden symbionts

    PubMed Central

    De Fine Licht, Henrik H.; Schiøtt, Morten; Rogowska-Wrzesinska, Adelina; Nygaard, Sanne; Roepstorff, Peter; Boomsma, Jacobus J.

    2013-01-01

    Leaf-cutting ants combine large-scale herbivory with fungus farming to sustain advanced societies. Their stratified colonies are major evolutionary achievements and serious agricultural pests, but the crucial adaptations that allowed this mutualism to become the prime herbivorous component of neotropical ecosystems has remained elusive. Here we show how coevolutionary adaptation of a specific enzyme in the fungal symbiont has helped leaf-cutting ants overcome plant defensive phenolic compounds. We identify nine putative laccase-coding genes in the fungal genome of Leucocoprinus gongylophorus cultivated by the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior. One of these laccases (LgLcc1) is highly expressed in the specialized hyphal tips (gongylidia) that the ants preferentially eat, and we confirm that these ingested laccase molecules pass through the ant guts and remain active when defecated on the leaf pulp that the ants add to their gardens. This accurate deposition ensures that laccase activity is highest where new leaf material enters the fungus garden, but where fungal mycelium is too sparse to produce extracellular enzymes in sufficient quantities to detoxify phenolic compounds. Phylogenetic analysis of LgLcc1 ortholog sequences from symbiotic and free-living fungi revealed significant positive selection in the ancestral lineage that gave rise to the gongylidia-producing symbionts of leaf-cutting ants and their non–leaf-cutting ant sister group. Our results are consistent with fungal preadaptation and subsequent modification of a particular laccase enzyme for the detoxification of secondary plant compounds during the transition to active herbivory in the ancestor of leaf-cutting ants between 8 and 12 Mya. PMID:23267060

  13. Laccase detoxification mediates the nutritional alliance between leaf-cutting ants and fungus-garden symbionts.

    PubMed

    De Fine Licht, Henrik H; Schiøtt, Morten; Rogowska-Wrzesinska, Adelina; Nygaard, Sanne; Roepstorff, Peter; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2013-01-08

    Leaf-cutting ants combine large-scale herbivory with fungus farming to sustain advanced societies. Their stratified colonies are major evolutionary achievements and serious agricultural pests, but the crucial adaptations that allowed this mutualism to become the prime herbivorous component of neotropical ecosystems has remained elusive. Here we show how coevolutionary adaptation of a specific enzyme in the fungal symbiont has helped leaf-cutting ants overcome plant defensive phenolic compounds. We identify nine putative laccase-coding genes in the fungal genome of Leucocoprinus gongylophorus cultivated by the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior. One of these laccases (LgLcc1) is highly expressed in the specialized hyphal tips (gongylidia) that the ants preferentially eat, and we confirm that these ingested laccase molecules pass through the ant guts and remain active when defecated on the leaf pulp that the ants add to their gardens. This accurate deposition ensures that laccase activity is highest where new leaf material enters the fungus garden, but where fungal mycelium is too sparse to produce extracellular enzymes in sufficient quantities to detoxify phenolic compounds. Phylogenetic analysis of LgLcc1 ortholog sequences from symbiotic and free-living fungi revealed significant positive selection in the ancestral lineage that gave rise to the gongylidia-producing symbionts of leaf-cutting ants and their non-leaf-cutting ant sister group. Our results are consistent with fungal preadaptation and subsequent modification of a particular laccase enzyme for the detoxification of secondary plant compounds during the transition to active herbivory in the ancestor of leaf-cutting ants between 8 and 12 Mya.

  14. The Dynamics of Plant Cell-Wall Polysaccharide Decomposition in Leaf-Cutting Ant Fungus Gardens

    PubMed Central

    Harholt, Jesper; Willats, William G. T.; Boomsma, Jacobus J.

    2011-01-01

    The degradation of live plant biomass in fungus gardens of leaf-cutting ants is poorly characterised but fundamental for understanding the mutual advantages and efficiency of this obligate nutritional symbiosis. Controversies about the extent to which the garden-symbiont Leucocoprinus gongylophorus degrades cellulose have hampered our understanding of the selection forces that induced large scale herbivory and of the ensuing ecological footprint of these ants. Here we use a recently established technique, based on polysaccharide microarrays probed with antibodies and carbohydrate binding modules, to map the occurrence of cell wall polymers in consecutive sections of the fungus garden of the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior. We show that pectin, xyloglucan and some xylan epitopes are degraded, whereas more highly substituted xylan and cellulose epitopes remain as residuals in the waste material that the ants remove from their fungus garden. These results demonstrate that biomass entering leaf-cutting ant fungus gardens is only partially utilized and explain why disproportionally large amounts of plant material are needed to sustain colony growth. They also explain why substantial communities of microbial and invertebrate symbionts have evolved associations with the dump material from leaf-cutting ant nests, to exploit decomposition niches that the ant garden-fungus does not utilize. Our approach thus provides detailed insight into the nutritional benefits and shortcomings associated with fungus-farming in ants. PMID:21423735

  15. Interaction specificity between leaf-cutting ants and vertically transmitted Pseudonocardia bacteria.

    PubMed

    Andersen, Sandra B; Yek, Sze Huei; Nash, David R; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2015-02-25

    The obligate mutualism between fungus-growing ants and microbial symbionts offers excellent opportunities to study the specificity and stability of multi-species interactions. In addition to cultivating fungus gardens, these ants have domesticated actinomycete bacteria to defend gardens against the fungal parasite Escovopsis and possibly other pathogens. Panamanian Acromyrmex echinatior leaf-cutting ants primarily associate with actinomycetes of the genus Pseudonocardia. Colonies are inoculated with one of two vertically transmitted phylotypes (Ps1 or Ps2), and maintain the same phylotype over their lifetime. We performed a cross-fostering experiment to test whether co-adaptations between ants and bacterial phylotypes have evolved, and how this affects bacterial growth and ant prophylactic behavior after infection with Escovopsis. We show that Pseudonocardia readily colonized ants irrespective of their colony of origin, but that the Ps2 phylotype, which was previously shown to be better able to maintain its monocultural integrity after workers became foragers than Ps1, reached a higher final cover when grown on its native host than on alternative hosts. The frequencies of major grooming and weeding behaviors co-varied with symbiont/host combinations, showing that ant behavior also was affected when cuticular actinomycete phylotypes were swapped. These results show that the interactions between leaf-cutting ants and Pseudonocardia bear signatures of mutual co-adaptation within a single ant population.

  16. Chemical disguise of myrmecophilous cockroaches and its implications for understanding nestmate recognition mechanisms in leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Nehring, Volker; Dani, Francesca R; Calamai, Luca; Turillazzi, Stefano; Bohn, Horst; Klass, Klaus-Dieter; d'Ettorre, Patrizia

    2016-08-05

    Cockroaches of the genus Attaphila regularly occur in leaf-cutting ant colonies. The ants farm a fungus that the cockroaches also appear to feed on. Cockroaches disperse between colonies horizontally (via foraging trails) and vertically (attached to queens on their mating flights). We analysed the chemical strategies used by the cockroaches to integrate into colonies of Atta colombica and Acromyrmex octospinosus. Analysing cockroaches from nests of two host species further allowed us to test the hypothesis that nestmate recognition is based on an asymmetric mechanism. Specifically, we test the U-present nestmate recognition model, which assumes that detection of undesirable cues (non-nestmate specific substances) leads to strong rejection of the cue-bearers, while absence of desirable cues (nestmate-specific substances) does not necessarily trigger aggression. We found that nests of Atta and Acromyrmex contained cockroaches of two different and not yet described Attaphila species. The cockroaches share the cuticular chemical substances of their specific host species and copy their host nest's colony-specific cuticular profile. Indeed, the cockroaches are accepted by nestmate but attacked by non-nestmate ant workers. Cockroaches from Acromyrmex colonies bear a lower concentration of cuticular substances and are less likely to be attacked by non-nestmate ants than cockroaches from Atta colonies. Nest-specific recognition of Attaphila cockroaches by host workers in combination with nest-specific cuticular chemical profiles suggest that the cockroaches mimic their host's recognition labels, either by synthesizing nest-specific substances or by substance transfer from ants. Our finding that the cockroach species with lower concentration of cuticular substances receives less aggression by both host species fully supports the U-present nestmate recognition model. Leaf-cutting ant nestmate recognition is thus asymmetric, responding more strongly to differences than to

  17. Collective Response of Leaf-Cutting Ants to the Effects of Wind on Foraging Activity.

    PubMed

    Alma, Andrea Marina; Farji-Brener, Alejandro G; Elizalde, Luciana

    2016-11-01

    One advantage of sociality is to mitigate environmental restrictions through collective behavior. Here we document a colony-level response of leaf-cutting ants to wind, an environmental factor that impedes foraging. Given that larger ants adhere more strongly to the substrate, increasing forager size in windy conditions should reduce the negative effect of wind. We tested this idea for Acromyrmex lobicornis in windy regions of Patagonia. We examined (1) whether the fraction of larger ants versus smaller ants increased in windy conditions and (2) whether the effect of wind on the ants' movement was lower for larger ants. The size-frequency distribution of foragers was skewed more toward larger ants in nature under more windy conditions. Under windy conditions in the field, the mobility of smaller ants was more reduced than that of larger ants. The change toward larger foragers in windy conditions reduced the negative effect of wind by 32%, illustrating how a social organism can collectively mitigate the adverse effects of the environment.

  18. Genetic polymorphism in leaf-cutting ants is phenotypically plastic.

    PubMed

    Hughes, William O H; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2007-07-07

    Advanced societies owe their success to an efficient division of labour that, in some social insects, is based on specialized worker phenotypes. The system of caste determination in such species is therefore critical. Here, we examine in a leaf-cutting ant (Acromyrmex echinatior) how a recently discovered genetic influence on caste determination interacts with the social environment. By removing most of one phenotype (large workers; LW) from test colonies, we increased the stimulus for larvae to develop into this caste, while for control colonies we removed a representative sample of all workers so that the stimulus was unchanged. We established the relative tendencies of genotypes to develop into LW by genotyping workers before and after the manipulation. In the control colonies, genotypes were similarly represented in the large worker caste before and after worker removal. In the test colonies, however, this relationship was significantly weaker, demonstrating that the change in environmental stimuli had altered the caste propensity of at least some genotypes. The results indicate that the genetic influence on worker caste determination acts via genotypes differing in their response thresholds to environmental cues and can be conceptualized as a set of overlapping reaction norms. A plastic genetic influence on division of labour has thus evolved convergently in two distantly related polyandrous taxa, the leaf-cutting ants and the honeybees, suggesting that it may be a common, potentially adaptive, property of complex, genetically diverse societies.

  19. Endophytic fungi reduce leaf-cutting ant damage to seedlings

    PubMed Central

    Bittleston, L. S.; Brockmann, F.; Wcislo, W.; Van Bael, S. A.

    2011-01-01

    Our study examines how the mutualism between Atta colombica leaf-cutting ants and their cultivated fungus is influenced by the presence of diverse foliar endophytic fungi (endophytes) at high densities in tropical leaf tissues. We conducted laboratory choice trials in which ant colonies chose between Cordia alliodora seedlings with high (Ehigh) or low (Elow) densities of endophytes. The Ehigh seedlings contained 5.5 times higher endophyte content and a greater diversity of fungal morphospecies than the Elow treatment, and endophyte content was not correlated with leaf toughness or thickness. Leaf-cutting ants cut over 2.5 times the leaf area from Elow relative to Ehigh seedlings and had a tendency to recruit more ants to Elow plants. Our findings suggest that leaf-cutting ants may incur costs from cutting and processing leaves with high endophyte loads, which could impact Neotropical forests by causing variable damage rates within plant communities. PMID:20610420

  20. Preliminary in vitro insights into the use of natural fungal pathogens of leaf-cutting ants as biocontrol agents.

    PubMed

    Folgarait, Patricia; Gorosito, Norma; Poulsen, Michael; Currie, Cameron R

    2011-09-01

    Leaf-cutting ants are one of the main herbivores of the Neotropics, where they represent an important agricultural pest. These ants are particularly difficult to control because of the complex network of microbial symbionts. Leaf-cutting ants have traditionally been controlled through pesticide application, but there is a need for alternative, more environmentally friendly, control methods such as biological control. Potential promising biocontrol candidates include the microfungi Escovopsis spp. (anamorphic Hypocreales), which are specialized pathogens of the fungi the ants cultivate for food. These pathogens are suppressed through ant behaviors and ant-associated antibiotic-producing Actinobacteria. In order to be an effective biocontrol agent, Escovopsis has to overcome these defenses. Here, we evaluate, using microbial in vitro assays, whether defenses in the ant-cultivated fungus strain (Leucoagaricus sp.) and Actinobacteria from the ant pest Acromyrmex lundii have the potential to limit the use of Escovopsis in biocontrol. We also explore, for the first time, possible synergistic biocontrol between Escovopsis and the entomopathogenic fungus Lecanicillium lecanii. All strains of Escovopsis proved to overgrow A. lundii cultivar in less than 7 days, with the Escovopsis strain isolated from a different leaf-cutting ant species being the most efficient. Escovopsis challenged with a Streptomyces strain isolated from A. lundii did not exhibit significant growth inhibition. Both results are encouraging for the use of Escovopsis as a biocontrol agent. Although we found that L. lecanii can suppress the growth of the cultivar, it also had a negative impact on Escovopsis, making the success of simultaneous use of these two fungi for biocontrol of A. lundii questionable.

  1. Essential Oils of Hyptis pectinata Chemotypes: Isolation, Binary Mixtures and Acute Toxicity on Leaf-Cutting Ants.

    PubMed

    Feitosa-Alcantara, Rosana B; Bacci, Leandro; Blank, Arie F; Alves, Péricles B; Silva, Indira Morgana de A; Soares, Caroline A; Sampaio, Taís S; Nogueira, Paulo Cesar de L; Arrigoni-Blank, Maria de Fátima

    2017-04-12

    Leaf-cutting ants are pests of great economic importance due to the damage they cause to agricultural and forest crops. The use of organosynthetic insecticides is the main form of control of these insects. In order to develop safer technology, the objective of this work was to evaluate the formicidal activity of the essential oils of two Hyptis pectinata genotypes (chemotypes) and their major compounds on the leaf-cutting ants Acromyrmex balzani Emery and Atta sexdens rubropilosa Forel. Bioassays of exposure pathways (contact and fumigation) and binary mixtures of the major compounds were performed. The major compounds identified in the essential oils of H. pectinata were β-caryophyllene, caryophyllene oxide and calamusenone. The essential oils of H. pectinata were toxic to the ants in both exposure pathways. Essential oils were more toxic than their major compounds alone. The chemotype calamusenone was more toxic to A. balzani in both exposure pathways. A. sexdens rubropilosa was more susceptible to the essential oil of the chemotype β-caryophyllene in both exposure pathways. In general, the binary mixtures of the major compounds resulted in additive effect of toxicity. The essential oils of H. pectinata is a raw material of great potential for the development of new insecticides.

  2. Leaf processing behaviour in Atta leafcutter ants: 90% of leaf cutting takes place inside the nest, and ants select pieces that require less cutting.

    PubMed

    Garrett, Ryan W; Carlson, Katherine A; Goggans, Matthew Scott; Nesson, Michael H; Shepard, Christopher A; Schofield, Robert M S

    2016-01-01

    Leafcutter ants cut trimmings from plants, carry them to their underground nests and cut them into smaller pieces before inoculating them with a fungus that serves as a primary food source for the colony. Cutting is energetically costly, so the amount of cutting is important in understanding foraging energetics. Estimates of the cutting density, metres of cutting per square metre of leaf, were made from samples of transported leaf cuttings and of fungal substrate from field colonies of Atta cephalotes and Atta colombica. To investigate cutting inside the nest, we made leaf-processing observations of our laboratory colony, A. cephalotes. We did not observe the commonly reported reduction of the leaf fragments into a pulp, which would greatly increase the energy cost of processing. Video clips of processing behaviours, including behaviours that have not previously been described, are linked. An estimated 2.9 (±0.3) km of cutting with mandibles was required to reduce a square metre of leaf to fungal substrate. Only about 12% (±1%) of this cutting took place outside of the nest. The cutting density and energy cost is lower for leaf material with higher ratios of perimeter to area, so we tested for, and found that the laboratory ants had a preference for leaves that were pre-cut into smaller pieces. Estimates suggest that the energy required to transport and cut up the leaf material is comparable to the metabolic energy available from the fungus grown on the leaves, and so conservation of energy is likely to be a particularly strong selective pressure for leafcutter ants.

  3. Essential Oil of Aristolochia trilobata: Synthesis, Routes of Exposure, Acute Toxicity, Binary Mixtures and Behavioral Effects on Leaf-Cutting Ants.

    PubMed

    de Oliveira, Bruna Maria S; Melo, Carlisson R; Alves, Péricles B; Santos, Abraão A; Santos, Ane Caroline C; Santana, Alisson da S; Araújo, Ana Paula A; Nascimento, Pedro E S; Blank, Arie F; Bacci, Leandro

    2017-02-25

    Plants of the genus Aristolochia have been frequently reported as important medicinal plants. Despite their high bioactive potential, to date, there are no reports of their effects on leaf-cutting ants. Therefore, the present study aimed to evaluate the insecticidal activity of the essential oil of Aristolochia trilobata and its major components on Atta sexdens and Acromyrmex balzani , two species of leaf-cutting ants. The bioassays were performed regarding routes of exposure, acute toxicity, binary mixtures of the major components and behavioral effects. Twenty-five components were identified in the essential oil of A. trilobata using a gas chromatographic system equipped with a mass spectrometer and a flame ionization detector. The components found in higher proportions were sulcatyl acetate, limonene, p -cymene and linalool. The essential oil of A. trilobata and its individual major components were efficient against A. balzani and A. sexdens workers when applied by fumigation. These components showed fast and efficient insecticidal activity on ants. The components acted synergistically and additively on A. balzani and A. sexdens , respectively, and caused a strong repellency/irritability in the ants. Thus, our results demonstrate the great potential of the essential oil of A. trilobata and its major components for the development of new insecticides.

  4. Symbiotic adaptations in the fungal cultivar of leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    De Fine Licht, Henrik H; Boomsma, Jacobus J; Tunlid, Anders

    2014-12-01

    Centuries of artificial selection have dramatically improved the yield of human agriculture; however, strong directional selection also occurs in natural symbiotic interactions. Fungus-growing attine ants cultivate basidiomycete fungi for food. One cultivar lineage has evolved inflated hyphal tips (gongylidia) that grow in bundles called staphylae, to specifically feed the ants. Here we show extensive regulation and molecular signals of adaptive evolution in gene trancripts associated with gongylidia biosynthesis, morphogenesis and enzymatic plant cell wall degradation in the leaf-cutting ant cultivar Leucoagaricus gongylophorus. Comparative analysis of staphylae growth morphology and transcriptome-wide expressional and nucleotide divergence indicate that gongylidia provide leaf-cutting ants with essential amino acids and plant-degrading enzymes, and that they may have done so for 20-25 million years without much evolutionary change. These molecular traits and signatures of selection imply that staphylae are highly advanced coevolutionary organs that play pivotal roles in the mutualism between leaf-cutting ants and their fungal cultivars.

  5. Carbon dioxide sensing in the social context: Leaf-cutting ants prefer elevated CO2 levels to tend their brood.

    PubMed

    Römer, Daniela; Bollazzi, Martin; Roces, Flavio

    2018-07-01

    Social insects show temperature and humidity preferences inside their nests to successfully rear brood. In underground nests, ants also encounter rising CO 2 concentrations with increasing depth. It is an open question whether they use CO 2 as a cue to decide where to place and tend the brood. Leaf-cutting ants do show CO 2 preferences for the culturing of their symbiotic fungus. We evaluated their CO 2 choices for brood placement in laboratory experiments. Workers of Acromyrmex lundii in the process of relocating brood were offered a binary choice consisting of two interconnected chambers with different CO 2 concentrations. Values ranged from atmospheric to high concentrations of 4% CO 2 . The CO 2 preferences shown by workers for themselves and for brood placement were assessed by quantifying the number of workers and relocated brood in each chamber. Ants showed clear CO 2 preferences for brood placement. They avoided atmospheric levels, 1% and 4% CO 2 , and showed a preference for levels of 3%. This is the first report of CO 2 preferences for the maintenance of brood in social insects. The observed preferences for brood location were independent of the workers' own CO 2 preferences, since they showed no clear-cut pattern. Workers' CO 2 preferences for brood maintenance were slightly higher than those reported for fungus culturing, although brood is reared in the same chambers as the fungus in leaf-cutting ant nests. Workers' choices for brood placement in natural nests are likely the result of competing preferences for other environmental factors more crucial for brood survival, aside from those for CO 2 . Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  6. Oviposition, Life Cycle, and Longevity of the Leaf-Cutting Ant Acromyrmex rugosus rugosus.

    PubMed

    Verza, Sandra S; Mussury, Rosilda M; Camargo, Roberto S; Andrade, Ana Paula P; Forti, Luiz C

    2017-08-04

    Studies related to the demography of individual members from ant colonies have received little attention, although they are the basis to understanding the population dynamics of colonies. Thus, the objective of this work was to study the queen oviposition rate and the duration of the life cycle and longevity of Acromyrmex rugosus rugosus workers. To determine the oviposition rate, queens from three colonies were individually placed in plastic containers, and the eggs laid were quantified over a 96 h period. The development of the immature forms was observed every 24 h, with which the duration of each stage of development was determined. To verify the longevity of workers, the newly emerged adults were marked and daily observations were made. According to the results, there is variation in the development time of immature forms within the colony itself and between colonies. In addition, the number of eggs deposited was also inconstant in the three colonies, ranging from 5 to 119 eggs per day, while the longevity of workers varied from 3 to 7 months. Occasionally, it was found that the workers feed on the eggs produced by the queen; besides, there was a disappearance of larvae and pupae during the research, indicating a possibility of the practice of cannibalism in this species.

  7. A pest is a pest is a pest? The dilemma of neotropical leaf-cutting ants: Keystone taxa of natural ecosystems

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fowler, Harold G.; Pagani, Maria Inez; da Silva, Osvaldo Aulino; Forti, Luis Carlos; da Silva, Virgilio Pereira; de Vasconcelos, Heraldo Luis

    1989-11-01

    Leaf-cutting ants of the genera Acromyrmex and Atta are considered the principal polyphagous pests of the Neotropics Although some members of these genera are of economic importance, have a broad geographic distribution, and are extremely good colonizers, others are endemic and closely interact with native ecosystems. Control is generally practiced against any colony, irrespective of its taxonomic status. Indiscriminate control coupled with habitat destruction threatens endemic species with extinction, and, through habitat simplification, favors other pest species. As nests of Atta are large, having several square meters of nest surface, the endemic taxa can be easily used as environmental indicators for natural ecosystems Likewise, the pest species can be used to detect environmental disturbance As these ants are keystone species and easily identified by nonspecialists, efforts should be made to integrate these into viable conservation programs

  8. Carbon dioxide sensing in an obligate insect-fungus symbiosis: CO2 preferences of leaf-cutting ants to rear their mutualistic fungus.

    PubMed

    Römer, Daniela; Bollazzi, Martin; Roces, Flavio

    2017-01-01

    Defense against biotic or abiotic stresses is one of the benefits of living in symbiosis. Leaf-cutting ants, which live in an obligate mutualism with a fungus, attenuate thermal and desiccation stress of their partner through behavioral responses, by choosing suitable places for fungus-rearing across the soil profile. The underground environment also presents hypoxic (low oxygen) and hypercapnic (high carbon dioxide) conditions, which can negatively influence the symbiont. Here, we investigated whether workers of the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex lundii use the CO2 concentration as an orientation cue when selecting a place to locate their fungus garden, and whether they show preferences for specific CO2 concentrations. We also evaluated whether levels preferred by workers for fungus-rearing differ from those selected for themselves. In the laboratory, CO2 preferences were assessed in binary choices between chambers with different CO2 concentrations, by quantifying number of workers in each chamber and amount of relocated fungus. Leaf-cutting ants used the CO2 concentration as a spatial cue when selecting places for fungus-rearing. A. lundii preferred intermediate CO2 levels, between 1 and 3%, as they would encounter at soil depths where their nest chambers are located. In addition, workers avoided both atmospheric and high CO2 levels as they would occur outside the nest and at deeper soil layers, respectively. In order to prevent fungus desiccation, however, workers relocated fungus to high CO2 levels, which were otherwise avoided. Workers' CO2 preferences for themselves showed no clear-cut pattern. We suggest that workers avoid both atmospheric and high CO2 concentrations not because they are detrimental for themselves, but because of their consequences for the symbiotic partner. Whether the preferred CO2 concentrations are beneficial for symbiont growth remains to be investigated, as well as whether the observed preferences for fungus-rearing influences the ants

  9. Contact rate modulates foraging efficiency in leaf cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Bouchebti, S; Ferrere, S; Vittori, K; Latil, G; Dussutour, A; Fourcassié, V

    2015-12-21

    Lane segregation is rarely observed in animals that move in bidirectional flows. Consequently, these animals generally experience a high rate of head-on collisions during their journeys. Although these collisions have a cost (each collision induces a delay resulting in a decrease of individual speed), they could also have a benefit by promoting information transfer between individuals. Here we explore the impact of head-on collisions in leaf-cutting ants moving on foraging trails by artificially decreasing the rate of head-on collisions between individuals. We show that head-on collisions do not influence the rate of recruitment in these ants but do influence foraging efficiency, i.e. the proportion of ants returning to the nest with a leaf fragment. Surprisingly, both unladen and laden ants returning to the nest participate in the modulation of foraging efficiency: foraging efficiency decreases when the rate of contacts with both nestbound laden or unladen ants decreases. These results suggest that outgoing ants are able to collect information from inbound ants even when these latter do not carry any leaf fragment and that this information can influence their foraging decisions when reaching the end of the trail.

  10. Regulation and specificity of antifungal metapleural gland secretion in leaf-cutting ants

    PubMed Central

    Yek, Sze Huei; Nash, David R.; Jensen, Annette B.; Boomsma, Jacobus J.

    2012-01-01

    Ants have paired metapleural glands (MGs) to produce secretions for prophylactic hygiene. These exocrine glands are particularly well developed in leaf-cutting ants, but whether the ants can actively regulate MG secretion is unknown. In a set of controlled experiments using conidia of five fungi, we show that the ants adjust the amount of MG secretion to the virulence of the fungus with which they are infected. We further applied fixed volumes of MG secretion of ants challenged with constant conidia doses to agar mats of the same fungal species. This showed that inhibition halos were significantly larger for ants challenged with virulent and mild pathogens/weeds than for controls and Escovopsis-challenged ants. We conclude that the MG defence system of leaf-cutting ants has characteristics reminiscent of an additional cuticular immune system, with specific and non-specific components, of which some are constitutive and others induced. PMID:22915672

  11. Actinomycetes inhibit filamentous fungi from the cuticle of Acromyrmex leafcutter ants.

    PubMed

    Dângelo, Rômulo Augusto Cotta; de Souza, Danival José; Mendes, Thais Demarchi; Couceiro, Joel da Cruz; Lucia, Terezinha Maria Castro Della

    2016-03-01

    Actinomycetes bacteria associated with leafcutter ants produce secondary metabolites with antimicrobial properties against Escovopsis, a fungus specialized in attacking the gardens of fungus-growing ants, which denies the ants their food source. Because previous studies have used fungi isolated from fungus gardens but not from ant integument, the aims of the present study were to isolate actinomycetes associated with the cuticle of the Acromyrmex spp. and to quantify their inhibition abilities against the filamentous fungal species carried by these ants. The results demonstrated that actinomycetes had varied strain-dependent effects on several filamentous fungal species in addition to antagonistic activity against Escovopsis. The strain isolated from Acromyrmex balzani was identified as a Streptomyces species, whereas the remaining isolates were identified as different strains belonging to the genus Pseudonocardia. These findings corroborate the hypothesis that actinomycetes do not act specifically against Escovopsis mycoparasites and may have the ability to inhibit other species of pathogenic fungi. © 2016 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

  12. Genetic caste polymorphism and the evolution of polyandry in Atta leaf-cutting ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Evison, Sophie Elizabeth Frances; Hughes, William O. H.

    2011-08-01

    Multiple mating by females with different males (polyandry) is difficult to explain in many taxa because it carries significant costs to females, yet benefits are often hard to identify. Polyandry is a derived trait in social insects, the evolutionary origins of which remain unclear. One of several leading hypotheses for its evolution is that it improves division of labour by increasing intra-colonial genetic diversity. Division of labour is a key player in the ecological success of social insects, and in many successful species of ants is based on morphologically distinct castes of workers, each with their own task specialisations. Atta leaf-cutting ants exhibit one of the most extreme and complicated forms of morphologically specialised worker castes and have been reported to be polyandrous but with relatively low mating frequencies (~2.5 on average). Here, we show for the first time that there is a significant genetic influence on worker size in Atta colombica leaf-cutting ants. We also provide the first estimate of the mating frequency of Atta cephalotes (four matings) and, by analysing much higher within-colony sample sizes, find that Atta are more polyandrous than previously thought (approximately six to seven matings). The results show that high polyandry and a genetic influence on worker caste are present in both genera of leaf-cutting ants and add weight to the hypothesis that division of labour is a potential driver of the evolution of polyandry in this clade of ants.

  13. Refuse dumps from leaf-cutting ant nests reduce the intensity of above-ground competition among neighboring plants in a Patagonian steppe

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Farji-Brener, Alejandro G.; Lescano, María Natalia

    2017-11-01

    In arid environments, the high availability of sunlight due to the scarcity of trees suggests that plant competition take place mainly belowground for water and nutrients. However, the occurrence of soil disturbances that increase nutrient availability and thereby promote plant growth may enhance shoot competition between neighboring plants. We conducted a greenhouse experiment to evaluate the influence of the enriched soil patches generated by the leaf-cutting ant, Acromyrmex lobicornis, on the performance of the alien forb Carduus thoermeri (Asteraceae) under different intraspecific competition scenarios. Our results showed that substrate type and competition scenario affected mainly aboveground plant growth. As expected, plants growing without neighbors and in nutrient-rich ant refuse dumps showed more aboveground biomass than plants growing with neighbors and in nutrient-poor steppe soils. However, aboveground competition was more intense in nutrient-poor substrates: plants under shoot and full competition growing in the nutrient-rich ant refuse dumps showed higher biomass than those growing on steppe soils. Belowground biomass was similar among focal plants growing under different substrate type. Our results support the traditional view that increments in resource availability reduce competition intensity. Moreover, the fact that seedlings in this sunny habitat mainly compete aboveground illustrates how limiting factors may be scale-dependent and change in importance as plants grow.

  14. A volatile trail Pheromone of the Leaf-Cutting Ant, Atta Texana

    Treesearch

    J. H. Tumlinson; John C. Moser; R. M. Silverstein; R. G. Brownlee; J. M. Ruth

    1972-01-01

    The major volatile trail-marking pheromone of the Texas leaf-cutting Ant, Atta texana, was isolated, identified as methyl 4-methylpyrrole-2-carboxylate, and synthesized. The synthesized pheromone elicited strong trail-following response from workers in the laboratory and field.

  15. The effects of age and social interactions on innate immunity in a leaf-cutting ant.

    PubMed

    Armitage, Sophie A O; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2010-07-01

    Both developmental and environmental factors shape investment in costly immune defences. Social insect workers have different selection pressures on their innate immune system compared to non-social insects because workers do not reproduce and their longevity affects the fitness of relatives. Furthermore, hygienic behavioural defences found in social insects can result in increased survival after fungal infection, although it is not known if there is modulation in physiological immune defence associated with group living vs. solitary living. Here we investigated whether physiological immune defence is affected by both age and the short-term presence or absence of nestmates in the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex octospinosus. We predicted that older ants would show immune senescence and that group living may result in prophylactic differences in immune defence compared to solitarily kept ants. We kept old and young workers alone or in nestmate groups for 48h and assayed a key innate immune system enzyme, expressing phenoloxidase (PO) and its stored precursor (proPO), a defence that acts immediately, i.e. it is constitutive. Short-term solitary living did not affect PO or proPO levels relative to group living controls and we found no evidence for immunosenescence in proPO. However, we found a significant increase in active PO in older workers, which is consistent with two non-mutually exclusive explanations: it could be an adaptive response or indicative of immunosenescence. Our results suggest that future studies of immunosenescence should consider both active immune effectors in the body, such as PO, and the stored potential to express immune defences, such as proPO. Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  16. Integrating Paleodistribution Models and Phylogeography in the Grass-Cutting Ant Acromyrmex striatus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Southern Lowlands of South America

    PubMed Central

    Cristiano, Maykon Passos; Clemes Cardoso, Danon; Fernandes-Salomão, Tânia Maria; Heinze, Jürgen

    2016-01-01

    Past climate changes often have influenced the present distribution and intraspecific genetic diversity of organisms. The objective of this study was to investigate the phylogeography and historical demography of populations of Acromyrmex striatus (Roger, 1863), a leaf-cutting ant species restricted to the open plains of South America. Additionally, we modeled the distribution of this species to predict its contemporary and historic habitat. From the partial sequences of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase I of 128 A. striatus workers from 38 locations we estimated genetic diversity and inferred historical demography, divergence time, and population structure. The potential distribution areas of A. striatus for current and quaternary weather conditions were modeled using the maximum entropy algorithm. We identified a total of 58 haplotypes, divided into five main haplogroups. The analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed that the largest proportion of genetic variation is found among the groups of populations. Paleodistribution models suggest that the potential habitat of A. striatus may have decreased during the Last Interglacial Period (LIG) and expanded during the Last Maximum Glacial (LGM). Overall, the past potential distribution recovered by the model comprises the current potential distribution of the species. The general structuring pattern observed was consistent with isolation by distance, suggesting a balance between gene flow and drift. Analysis of historical demography showed that populations of A. striatus had remained constant throughout its evolutionary history. Although fluctuations in the area of their potential historic habitat occurred during quaternary climate changes, populations of A. striatus are strongly structured geographically. However, explicit barriers to gene flow have not been identified. These findings closely match those in Mycetophylax simplex, another ant species that in some areas occurs in sympatry with A. striatus

  17. Yet More “Weeds” in the Garden: Fungal Novelties from Nests of Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Augustin, Juliana O.; Groenewald, Johannes Z.; Nascimento, Robson J.; Mizubuti, Eduardo S. G.; Barreto, Robert W.; Elliot, Simon L.; Evans, Harry C.

    2013-01-01

    Background Symbiotic relationships modulate the evolution of living organisms in all levels of biological organization. A notable example of symbiosis is that of attine ants (Attini; Formicidae: Hymenoptera) and their fungal cultivars (Lepiotaceae and Pterulaceae; Agaricales: Basidiomycota). In recent years, this mutualism has emerged as a model system for studying coevolution, speciation, and multitrophic interactions. Ubiquitous in this ant-fungal symbiosis is the “weedy” fungus Escovopsis (Hypocreales: Ascomycota), known only as a mycoparasite of attine fungal gardens. Despite interest in its biology, ecology and molecular phylogeny—noting, especially, the high genetic diversity encountered—which has led to a steady flow of publications over the past decade, only two species of Escovopsis have formally been described. Methods and Results We sampled from fungal gardens and garden waste (middens) of nests of the leaf-cutting ant genus Acromyrmex in a remnant of subtropical Atlantic rainforest in Minas Gerais, Brazil. In culture, distinct morphotypes of Escovopsis sensu lato were recognized. Using both morphological and molecular analyses, three new species of Escovopsis were identified. These are described and illustrated herein—E. lentecrescens, E. microspora, and E. moelleri—together with a re-description of the genus and the type species, E. weberi. The new genus Escovopsioides is erected for a fourth morphotype. We identify, for the first time, a mechanism for horizontal transmission via middens. Conclusions The present study makes a start at assigning names and formal descriptions to these specific fungal parasites of attine nests. Based on the results of this exploratory and geographically-restricted survey, we expect there to be many more species of the genus Escovopsis and its relatives associated with nests of both the lower and higher Attini throughout their neotropical range, as suggested in previous studies. PMID:24376525

  18. Occurrence of killer yeasts in leaf-cutting ant nests.

    PubMed

    Carreiro, S C; Pagnocca, F C; Bacci, M; Bueno, O C; Hebling, M J A; Middelhoven, W J

    2002-01-01

    Killer activity was screened in 99 yeast strains isolated from the nests of the leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens against 6 standard sensitive strains, as well as against each other. Among this yeast community killer activity was widespread since 77 strains (78%) were able to kill or inhibit the growth of at least one standard strain or nest strain. Toxin production was observed in representatives of all the studied genera including Aureobasidium, Rhodotorula, Tremella and Trichosporon, whose killer activity has not yet been described.

  19. Invertebrate enemies and nest associates of the leaf-cutting ant Atta texana (Buckley) (Formicudae, Attini)

    Treesearch

    D.A. Waller; John C. Moser

    1990-01-01

    The complex nests of leaf-cutting ants (Formicidae; Attini) provide rich habitats for ant associates. These mounds consist of interconnected subterranean cavities that average 0.002 m3 in volume (Waler et al. 1938) and extend to depths of 7 m (Moser 1963). Many cavities contain fungus gardens, cultivated on live plant material, frass and debris....

  20. The Evolutionary Innovation of Nutritional Symbioses in Leaf-Cutter Ants

    PubMed Central

    Aylward, Frank O.; Currie, Cameron R.; Suen, Garret

    2012-01-01

    Fungus-growing ants gain access to nutrients stored in plant biomass through their association with a mutualistic fungus they grow for food. This 50 million-year-old obligate mutualism likely facilitated some of these species becoming dominant Neotropical herbivores that can achieve immense colony sizes. Recent culture-independent investigations have shed light on the conversion of plant biomass into nutrients within ant fungus gardens, revealing that this process involves both the fungal cultivar and a symbiotic community of bacteria including Enterobacter, Klebsiella, and Pantoea species. Moreover, the genome sequences of the leaf-cutter ants Atta cephalotes and Acromyrmex echinatior have provided key insights into how this symbiosis has shaped the evolution of these ants at a genetic level. Here we summarize the findings of recent research on the microbial community dynamics within fungus-growing ant fungus gardens and discuss their implications for this ancient symbiosis. PMID:26467948

  1. Leaf-cutting ants: an unexpected microenvironment holding human opportunistic black fungi.

    PubMed

    Duarte, A P M; Attili-Angelis, D; Baron, N C; Forti, L C; Pagnocca, F C

    2014-09-01

    Fungus-growing ants of the genus Atta are known for their leaf-cutting habit, a lifestyle they have maintained since their 50-million-year-old co-evolution with a mutualistic fungus, cultivated as food. Recent studies have highlighted that, in addition to the mutualistic fungus, nests of ants harbor a great diversity of microbial communities. Such microorganisms include the dematiaceous fungi, which are characterized by their melanized cell walls. In order to contribute to the knowledge of fungal ecology, as well as opportunistic strains that may be dispersed by these social insects, we isolated and identified fungi carried by gynes of Atta capiguara and Atta laevigata, collected from colonies located in Fazenda Santana, Botucatu (São Paulo, Brazil). The isolation was carried out using the oil flotation technique, which is suitable for the growth of black fungi. Inoculated plates were incubated at 25 and 35 °C until black cultures were visible (20-45 days). Isolates were identified based on microscopic and molecular characteristics. Some isolated genera were: Cladophialophora, Cladosporium, Exophiala, Ochroconis, Phaeococcomyces, Phialophora and Penidiella. Hyaline species were also found. The results obtained from this work showed that leaf-cutting gynes may contribute to the dispersal of opportunistic dematiaceous fungi. It is suggested that more attention should be paid to this still unexplored subject.

  2. Long-term avoidance memory formation is associated with a transient increase in mushroom body synaptic complexes in leaf-cutting ants

    PubMed Central

    Falibene, Agustina; Roces, Flavio; Rössler, Wolfgang

    2015-01-01

    Long-term behavioral changes related to learning and experience have been shown to be associated with structural remodeling in the brain. Leaf-cutting ants learn to avoid previously preferred plants after they have proved harmful for their symbiotic fungus, a process that involves long-term olfactory memory. We studied the dynamics of brain microarchitectural changes after long-term olfactory memory formation following avoidance learning in Acromyrmex ambiguus. After performing experiments to control for possible neuronal changes related to age and body size, we quantified synaptic complexes (microglomeruli, MG) in olfactory regions of the mushroom bodies (MBs) at different times after learning. Long-term avoidance memory formation was associated with a transient change in MG densities. Two days after learning, MG density was higher than before learning. At days 4 and 15 after learning—when ants still showed plant avoidance—MG densities had decreased to the initial state. The structural reorganization of MG triggered by long-term avoidance memory formation clearly differed from changes promoted by pure exposure to and collection of novel plants with distinct odors. Sensory exposure by the simultaneous collection of several, instead of one, non-harmful plant species resulted in a decrease in MG densities in the olfactory lip. We hypothesize that while sensory exposure leads to MG pruning in the MB olfactory lip, the formation of long-term avoidance memory involves an initial growth of new MG followed by subsequent pruning. PMID:25904854

  3. Cytogenetic data on six leafcutter ants of the genus Acromyrmex Mayr, 1865 (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Myrmicinae): insights into chromosome evolution and taxonomic implications

    PubMed Central

    Barros, Luísa Antônia Campos; de Aguiar, Hilton Jeferson Alves Cardoso; Mariano, Cléa dos Santos Ferreira; Andrade-Souza, Vanderly; Costa, Marco Antonio; Delabie, Jacques Hubert Charles; Pompolo, Silvia das Graças

    2016-01-01

    Abstract Cytogenetic data for the genus Acromyrmex Mayr, 1865 are available, to date, for a few species from Brazil and Uruguay, which have uniform chromosome numbers (2n = 38). The recent cytogenetic data of Acromyrmex striatus (Roger, 1863), including its banding patterns, showed a distinct karyotype (2n = 22), similar to earlier studied Atta Fabricius, 1804 species. Karyological data are still scarce for the leafcutter ants and many gaps are still present for a proper understanding of this group. Therefore, this study aimed at increasing cytogenetic knowledge of the genus through the characterization of other six species: Acromyrmex balzani (Emery, 1890), Acromyrmex coronatus Fabricius, 1804, Acromyrmex disciger (Mayr, 1887), Acromyrmex echinatior (Forel, 1899), Acromyrmex niger (Smith, 1858) and Acromyrmex rugosus (Smith, 1858), all of which were collected in Minas Gerais – Brazil, except for Acromyrmex echinatior which was collected in Barro Colorado – Panama. The number and morphology of the chromosomes were studied and the following banding techniques were applied: C-banding, fluorochromes CMA3 and DAPI, as well as the detection of 45S rDNA using FISH technique. All the six species had the same chromosome number observed for already studied species, i.e. 2n = 38. Acromyrmex balzani had a different karyotype compared with other species mainly due to the first metacentric pair. The heterochromatin distribution also showed interspecific variation. Nevertheless, all the studied species had a pair of bands in the short arm of the first subtelocentric pair. The fluorochrome CMA3 visualized bands in the short arm of the first subtelocentric pair for all the six species, while Acromyrmex rugosus and Acromyrmex niger also demonstrated in the other chromosomes. The AT-rich regions with differential staining using DAPI were not observed. 45S ribosomal genes were identified by FISH in the short arm of the first subtelocentric pair in Acromyrmex coronatus, Acromyrmex

  4. Recognition of endophytic Trichoderma species by leaf-cutting ants and their potential in a Trojan-horse management strategy

    PubMed Central

    Rocha, Silma L.; Evans, Harry C.; Jorge, Vanessa L.; Cardoso, Lucimar A. O.; Pereira, Fernanda S. T.; Rocha, Fabiano B.; Barreto, Robert W.; Hart, Adam G.

    2017-01-01

    Interactions between leaf-cutting ants, their fungal symbiont (Leucoagaricus) and the endophytic fungi within the vegetation they carry into their colonies are still poorly understood. If endophytes antagonistic to Leucoagaricus were found in plant material being carried by these ants, then this might indicate a potential mechanism for plants to defend themselves from leaf-cutter attack. In addition, it could offer possibilities for the management of these important Neotropical pests. Here, we show that, for Atta sexdens rubropilosa, there was a significantly greater incidence of Trichoderma species in the vegetation removed from the nests—and deposited around the entrances—than in that being transported into the nests. In a no-choice test, Trichoderma-infested rice was taken into the nest, with deleterious effects on both the fungal gardens and ant survival. The endophytic ability of selected strains of Trichoderma was also confirmed, following their inoculation and subsequent reisolation from seedlings of eucalyptus. These results indicate that endophytic fungi which pose a threat to ant fungal gardens through their antagonistic traits, such as Trichoderma, have the potential to act as bodyguards of their plant hosts and thus might be employed in a Trojan-horse strategy to mitigate the negative impact of leaf-cutting ants in both agriculture and silviculture in the Neotropics. We posit that the ants would detect and evict such ‘malign’ endophytes—artificially inoculated into vulnerable crops—during the quality-control process within the nest, and, moreover, that the foraging ants may then be deterred from further harvesting of ‘Trichoderma-enriched’ plants. PMID:28484603

  5. Recognition of endophytic Trichoderma species by leaf-cutting ants and their potential in a Trojan-horse management strategy.

    PubMed

    Rocha, Silma L; Evans, Harry C; Jorge, Vanessa L; Cardoso, Lucimar A O; Pereira, Fernanda S T; Rocha, Fabiano B; Barreto, Robert W; Hart, Adam G; Elliot, Simon L

    2017-04-01

    Interactions between leaf-cutting ants, their fungal symbiont ( Leucoagaricus ) and the endophytic fungi within the vegetation they carry into their colonies are still poorly understood. If endophytes antagonistic to Leucoagaricus were found in plant material being carried by these ants, then this might indicate a potential mechanism for plants to defend themselves from leaf-cutter attack. In addition, it could offer possibilities for the management of these important Neotropical pests. Here, we show that, for Atta sexdens rubropilosa , there was a significantly greater incidence of Trichoderma species in the vegetation removed from the nests-and deposited around the entrances-than in that being transported into the nests. In a no-choice test, Trichoderma- infested rice was taken into the nest, with deleterious effects on both the fungal gardens and ant survival. The endophytic ability of selected strains of Trichoderma was also confirmed, following their inoculation and subsequent reisolation from seedlings of eucalyptus. These results indicate that endophytic fungi which pose a threat to ant fungal gardens through their antagonistic traits, such as Trichoderma , have the potential to act as bodyguards of their plant hosts and thus might be employed in a Trojan-horse strategy to mitigate the negative impact of leaf-cutting ants in both agriculture and silviculture in the Neotropics. We posit that the ants would detect and evict such 'malign' endophytes-artificially inoculated into vulnerable crops-during the quality-control process within the nest, and, moreover, that the foraging ants may then be deterred from further harvesting of ' Trichoderma -enriched' plants.

  6. Use of geostatistics to determine the spatial distribution and infestation rate of leaf-cutting ant nests (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in eucalyptus plantations.

    PubMed

    Lasmar, O; Zanetti, R; dos Santos, A; Fernandes, B V

    2012-08-01

    One of the fundamental steps in pest sampling is the assessment of the population distribution in the field. Several studies have investigated the distribution and appropriate sampling methods for leaf-cutting ants; however, more reliable methods are still required, such as those that use geostatistics. The objective of this study was to determine the spatial distribution and infestation rate of leaf-cutting ant nests in eucalyptus plantations by using geostatistics. The study was carried out in 2008 in two eucalyptus stands in Paraopeba, Minas Gerais, Brazil. All of the nests in the studied area were located and used for the generation of GIS maps, and the spatial pattern of distribution was determined considering the number and size of nests. Each analysis and map was made using the R statistics program and the geoR package. The nest spatial distribution in a savanna area of Minas Gerais was clustered to a certain extent. The models generated allowed the production of kriging maps of areas infested with leaf-cutting ants, where chemical intervention would be necessary, reducing the control costs, impact on humans, and the environment.

  7. Immune defense in leaf-cutting ants: a cross-fostering approach.

    PubMed

    Armitage, Sophie A O; Broch, Jens F; Marín, Hermogenes Fernández; Nash, David R; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2011-06-01

    To ameliorate the impact of disease, social insects combine individual innate immune defenses with collective social defenses. This implies that there are different levels of selection acting on investment in immunity, each with their own trade-offs. We present the results of a cross-fostering experiment designed to address the influences of genotype and social rearing environment upon individual and social immune defenses. We used a multiply mating leaf-cutting ant, enabling us to test for patriline effects within a colony, as well as cross-colony matriline effects. The worker's father influenced both individual innate immunity (constitutive antibacterial activity) and the size of the metapleural gland, which secretes antimicrobial compounds and functions in individual and social defense, indicating multiple mating could have important consequences for both defense types. However, the primarily social defense, a Pseudonocardia bacteria that helps to control pathogens in the ants' fungus garden, showed a significant colony of origin by rearing environment interaction, whereby ants that acquired the bacteria of a foster colony obtained a less abundant cover of bacteria: one explanation for this pattern would be co-adaptation between host colonies and their vertically transmitted mutualist. These results illustrate the complexity of the selection pressures that affect the expression of multilevel immune defenses. © 2011 The Author(s). Evolution© 2011 The Society for the Study of Evolution.

  8. Leucoagaricus gongylophorus Produces Diverse Enzymes for the Degradation of Recalcitrant Plant Polymers in Leaf-Cutter Ant Fungus Gardens

    PubMed Central

    Aylward, Frank O.; Burnum-Johnson, Kristin E.; Tringe, Susannah G.; Teiling, Clotilde; Tremmel, Daniel M.; Moeller, Joseph A.; Scott, Jarrod J.; Barry, Kerrie W.; Piehowski, Paul D.; Nicora, Carrie D.; Malfatti, Stephanie A.; Monroe, Matthew E.; Purvine, Samuel O.; Goodwin, Lynne A.; Smith, Richard D.; Weinstock, George M.; Gerardo, Nicole M.; Suen, Garret; Lipton, Mary S.

    2013-01-01

    Plants represent a large reservoir of organic carbon comprised primarily of recalcitrant polymers that most metazoans are unable to deconstruct. Many herbivores gain access to nutrients in this material indirectly by associating with microbial symbionts, and leaf-cutter ants are a paradigmatic example. These ants use fresh foliar biomass as manure to cultivate gardens composed primarily of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, a basidiomycetous fungus that produces specialized hyphal swellings that serve as a food source for the host ant colony. Although leaf-cutter ants are conspicuous herbivores that contribute substantially to carbon turnover in Neotropical ecosystems, the process through which plant biomass is degraded in their fungus gardens is not well understood. Here we present the first draft genome of L. gongylophorus, and, using genomic and metaproteomic tools, we investigate its role in lignocellulose degradation in the gardens of both Atta cephalotes and Acromyrmex echinatior leaf-cutter ants. We show that L. gongylophorus produces a diversity of lignocellulases in ant gardens and is likely the primary driver of plant biomass degradation in these ecosystems. We also show that this fungus produces distinct sets of lignocellulases throughout the different stages of biomass degradation, including numerous cellulases and laccases that likely play an important role in lignocellulose degradation. Our study provides a detailed analysis of plant biomass degradation in leaf-cutter ant fungus gardens and insight into the enzymes underlying the symbiosis between these dominant herbivores and their obligate fungal cultivar. PMID:23584789

  9. Prevalence of the genus Cladosporium on the integument of leaf-cutting ants characterized by 454 pyrosequencing.

    PubMed

    Duarte, A P M; Ferro, M; Rodrigues, A; Bacci, M; Nagamoto, N S; Forti, L C; Pagnocca, F C

    2016-09-01

    The relationship of attine ants with their mutualistic fungus and other microorganisms has been studied during the last two centuries. However, previous studies about the diversity of fungi in the ants' microenvironment are based mostly on culture-dependent approaches, lacking a broad characterization of the fungal ant-associated community. Here, we analysed the fungal diversity found on the integument of Atta capiguara and Atta laevigata alate ants using 454 pyrosequencing. We obtained 35,453 ITS reads grouped into 99 molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTUs). Data analysis revealed that A. capiguara drones had the highest diversity of MOTUs. Besides the occurrence of several uncultured fungi, the mycobiota analysis revealed that the most abundant taxa were the Cladosporium-complex, Cryptococcus laurentii and Epicoccum sp. Taxa in the genus Cladosporium were predominant in all samples, comprising 67.9 % of all reads. The remarkable presence of the genus Cladosporium on the integument of leaf-cutting ants alates from distinct ant species suggests that this fungus is favored in this microenvironment.

  10. Leucoagaricus gongylophorus Produces Diverse Enzymes for the Degradation of Recalcitrant Plant Polymers in Leaf-Cutter Ant Fungus Gardens

    SciTech Connect

    Aylward, Frank O.; Burnum-Johnson, Kristin E.; Tringe, Susannah G.

    Plants represent a large reservoir of organic carbon comprised largely of recalcitrant polymers that most metazoans are unable to deconstruct. Many herbivores gain access to nutrients in this material indirectly by associating with microbial symbionts, and leaf-cutter ants are a paradigmatic example. These ants use fresh foliar biomass as manure to cultivate fungus gardens composed primarily of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, a basidiomycetous symbiont that produces specialized hyphal swellings that serve as a food source for the host ant colony. Although leaf-cutter ants are conspicuous herbivores that contribute substantially to carbon turnover in Neotropical ecosystems, the process through which plant biomass ismore » degraded in their fungus gardens is not well understood. Here we present the first draft genome of L. gongylophorus, and using genomic, metaproteomic, and phylogenetic tools we investigate its role in lignocellulose degradation in the fungus gardens of both Atta cephalotes and Acromyrmex echinatior leaf-cutter ants. We show that L. gongylophorus produces a diversity of lignocellulases in fungus gardens, and is likely the primary driver of plant biomass degradation in these ecosystems. We also show that this fungus produces distinct sets of lignocellulases throughout the different stages of biomass degradation, including numerous cellulases and laccases that may be playing an important but previously uncharacterized role in lignocellulose degradation. Our study provides a comprehensive analysis of plant biomass degradation in leaf-cutter ant fungus gardens and provides insight into the molecular dynamics underlying the symbiosis between these dominant herbivores and their obligate fungal cultivar.« less

  11. Underground anemotactic orientation in leaf-cutting ants: perception of airflow and experience-dependent choice of airflow direction during digging

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Halboth, Florian; Roces, Flavio

    2017-10-01

    Air exchange between the large nests of Atta vollenweideri leaf-cutting ants and the environment strongly relies on a passive, wind-induced ventilation mechanism. Air moves through nest tunnels and airflow direction depends on the location of the tunnel openings on the nest mound. We hypothesized that ants might use the direction of airflow along nest tunnels as orientation cue in the context of climate control, as digging workers might prefer to broaden or to close tunnels with inflowing or outflowing air in order to regulate nest ventilation. To investigate anemotactic orientation in Atta vollenweideri, we first tested the ants' ability to perceive air movements by confronting single workers with airflow stimuli in the range 0 to 20 cm/s. Workers responded to airflow velocities ≥ 2 cm/s, and the number of ants reacting to the stimulus increased with increasing airflow speed. Second, we asked whether digging workers use airflow direction as an orientation cue. Workers were exposed to either inflow or outflow of air while digging in the nest and could subsequently choose between two digging sites providing either inflow or outflow of air, respectively. Workers significantly chose the side with the same airflow direction they experienced before. When no airflow was present during initial digging, workers showed no preference for airflow directions. Workers developed preferences for airflow direction only after previous exposure to a given airflow direction. We suggest that experience-modified anemotaxis might help leaf-cutting ants spatially organize their digging activity inside the nest during tasks related to climate control.

  12. Underground anemotactic orientation in leaf-cutting ants: perception of airflow and experience-dependent choice of airflow direction during digging.

    PubMed

    Halboth, Florian; Roces, Flavio

    2017-09-19

    Air exchange between the large nests of Atta vollenweideri leaf-cutting ants and the environment strongly relies on a passive, wind-induced ventilation mechanism. Air moves through nest tunnels and airflow direction depends on the location of the tunnel openings on the nest mound. We hypothesized that ants might use the direction of airflow along nest tunnels as orientation cue in the context of climate control, as digging workers might prefer to broaden or to close tunnels with inflowing or outflowing air in order to regulate nest ventilation. To investigate anemotactic orientation in Atta vollenweideri, we first tested the ants' ability to perceive air movements by confronting single workers with airflow stimuli in the range 0 to 20 cm/s. Workers responded to airflow velocities ≥ 2 cm/s, and the number of ants reacting to the stimulus increased with increasing airflow speed. Second, we asked whether digging workers use airflow direction as an orientation cue. Workers were exposed to either inflow or outflow of air while digging in the nest and could subsequently choose between two digging sites providing either inflow or outflow of air, respectively. Workers significantly chose the side with the same airflow direction they experienced before. When no airflow was present during initial digging, workers showed no preference for airflow directions. Workers developed preferences for airflow direction only after previous exposure to a given airflow direction. We suggest that experience-modified anemotaxis might help leaf-cutting ants spatially organize their digging activity inside the nest during tasks related to climate control.

  13. Comparative physical mapping of 18S rDNA in the karyotypes of six leafcutter ant species of the genera Atta and Acromyrmex (Formicidae: Myrmicinae).

    PubMed

    Teixeira, Gisele Amaro; Barros, Luísa Antônia Campos; de Aguiar, Hilton Jeferson Alves Cardoso; das Graças Pompolo, Silvia

    2017-10-01

    Leafcutter ants of the Atta and Acromyrmex genera are important plagues in different cultures. Cytogenetic data on chromosome number, morphology, and chromosomal banding pattern are only available for 17 species of leafcutter ants. Molecular cytogenetic data for the detection of ribosomal genes by the FISH technique are scarce, and only 15 Neotropical ant species have been studied. This study aimed to physically map the 18S ribosomal RNA genes (rDNA) of six leafcutter ants belonging to the genera Atta and Acromyrmex using FISH. The results were compared with data on the fluorochrome CMA 3 currently available for these species. All analyzed species presented the 18S rDNA on one pair of chromosomes. In Acromyrmex subterraneus molestans and Ac. aspersus, FISH signals were observed in the terminal region of the short arm of the largest subtelocentric pair, while in Atta bisphaerica, A. laevigata, and A. sexdens, FISH signals were observed in the interstitial region of the long arm of the fourth metacentric pair. In Acromyrmex striatus, 18S rDNA was located in the interstitial region of the second metacentric pair. The karyotypic formula for Ac. aspersus was 2n = 38 (8m + 10sm + 16st + 4a), representing the first report in this species. The observed 18S rDNA regions in A. laevigata, A. sexdens, A. bisphaerica, Ac. aspersus, and Ac. subterraneus molestans corresponded to the CMA 3 + bands, while in Ac. striatus, several GC-rich bands and one pair of 18S rDNA bands were observed. No differential bands were visible using the DAPI fluorochrome. Karyotype uniformity with previously studied Atta spp. was also observed at the level of molecular cytogenetics using 18S rDNA FISH. A difference in the size of the chromosomal pair carrying the 18S rDNA gene was observed in Ac. striatus (2n = 22) and Atta spp. (2n = 22) highlighting the dissimilarity between these species. The results from the present study contribute to the description of 18S rDNA clusters

  14. The Postpharyngeal Gland: Specialized Organ for Lipid Nutrition in Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Decio, Pâmela; Vieira, Alexsandro Santana; Dias, Nathalia Baptista; Palma, Mario Sergio; Bueno, Odair Correa

    2016-01-01

    There are several hypotheses about the possible functions of the postpharyngeal gland (PPG) in ants. The proposed functions include roles as cephalic or gastric caeca and diverticulum of the digestive tract, mixing of hydrocarbons, nestmate recognition, feeding larvae, and the accumulation of lipids inside this gland, whose origin is contradictory. The current study aimed to investigate the functions of these glands by examining the protein expression profile of the PPGs of Atta sexdens rubropilosa (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Mated females received lipid supplementation and their glands were extracted and analyzed using a proteomic approach. The protocol used combined two-dimensional electrophoresis and shotgun strategies, followed by mass spectrometry. We also detected lipid β-oxidation by immunofluorescent marking of acyl-CoA dehydrogenase. Supplying ants with lipids elicited responses in the glandular cells of the PPG; these included increased expression of proteins related to defense mechanisms and signal transduction and reorganization of the cytoskeleton due to cell expansion. In addition, some proteins in PPG were overexpressed, especially those involved in lipid and energy metabolism. Part of the lipids may be reduced, used for the synthesis of fatty alcohol, transported to the hemolymph, or may be used as substrate for the synthesis of acetyl-CoA, which is oxidized to form molecules that drive oxidative phosphorylation and produce energy for cellular metabolic processes. These findings suggest that this organ is specialized for lipid nutrition of adult leaf-cutting ants and characterized like a of diverticulum foregut, with the ability to absorb, store, metabolize, and mobilize lipids to the hemolymph. However, we do not rule out that the PPG may have other functions in other species of ants. PMID:27149618

  15. The Postpharyngeal Gland: Specialized Organ for Lipid Nutrition in Leaf-Cutting Ants.

    PubMed

    Decio, Pâmela; Vieira, Alexsandro Santana; Dias, Nathalia Baptista; Palma, Mario Sergio; Bueno, Odair Correa

    2016-01-01

    There are several hypotheses about the possible functions of the postpharyngeal gland (PPG) in ants. The proposed functions include roles as cephalic or gastric caeca and diverticulum of the digestive tract, mixing of hydrocarbons, nestmate recognition, feeding larvae, and the accumulation of lipids inside this gland, whose origin is contradictory. The current study aimed to investigate the functions of these glands by examining the protein expression profile of the PPGs of Atta sexdens rubropilosa (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Mated females received lipid supplementation and their glands were extracted and analyzed using a proteomic approach. The protocol used combined two-dimensional electrophoresis and shotgun strategies, followed by mass spectrometry. We also detected lipid β-oxidation by immunofluorescent marking of acyl-CoA dehydrogenase. Supplying ants with lipids elicited responses in the glandular cells of the PPG; these included increased expression of proteins related to defense mechanisms and signal transduction and reorganization of the cytoskeleton due to cell expansion. In addition, some proteins in PPG were overexpressed, especially those involved in lipid and energy metabolism. Part of the lipids may be reduced, used for the synthesis of fatty alcohol, transported to the hemolymph, or may be used as substrate for the synthesis of acetyl-CoA, which is oxidized to form molecules that drive oxidative phosphorylation and produce energy for cellular metabolic processes. These findings suggest that this organ is specialized for lipid nutrition of adult leaf-cutting ants and characterized like a of diverticulum foregut, with the ability to absorb, store, metabolize, and mobilize lipids to the hemolymph. However, we do not rule out that the PPG may have other functions in other species of ants.

  16. Behavioral Strategies of Phorid Parasitoids and Responses of Their Hosts, the Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Elizalde, Luciana; Folgarait, Patricia Julia

    2012-01-01

    Host-searching and oviposition behaviors of parasitoids, and defensive responses of the hosts, are fundamental in shaping the ecology of host-parasitoid interactions. In order to uncover key behavioral features for the little known interactions between phorid parasitoids (Diptera: Phoridae) and their leaf-cutting ant hosts (Formicidae: Attini), host-related behavioral strategies (i.e., host searching and oviposition) for 13 phorid species, and host defensive responses (i.e., hitchhikers and particular body postures) for 11 ant species, were studied. Data was collected at 14 localities, one of them characterized by its high species richness for this host-parasitoid system. Phorid species showed both great variation and specificity in attacking behaviors. Some chose their hosts using either an ambush or an actively searching strategy, while some species attacked ants on different body parts, and specialized on ants performing different tasks, such as when ants were foraging, removing wastes to refuse piles, or repairing the nest. Combining all the behaviors recorded, most phorid species differed in performance in at least one, making it possible to recognize species in the field through their behavior. Phorid species that attacked hosts with greater activity levels showed overall higher attack rates, although there was no significant correlation between attack rates by most phorid species and ant activity outside the nest while parasitoids were attacking. The presence of phorids was a significant determinant for the presence of defensive behaviors by the ants. Although ant species varied in the incidence levels of these defensive behaviors, most ant species reacted against different phorids by utilizing similar behaviors, in contrast to what parasitoids do. General features of the observed phorid-ant interactions were parasitoid specialization and corresponding high interspecific variation in their behaviors, while their hosts showed generalized responses to attacks

  17. A new genus and species of Macrochelidae (Acari:Mesostigmata) associated with the Texas leaf cutting ant, Atta texana (Buckley) in Louisiana, USA

    Treesearch

    Gerald W. Krantz; John Moser

    2012-01-01

    Adults and nymphs of a new genus and species of the family Macrochelidae are described from detritus cavities of the leaf-cutting ant, Atta texana. This new species is notable in having peritremes with no posterior loop, a series of small subterminal teeth on the fixed cheliceral digit rather than the single large tooth typical of other macrochelids...

  18. Leaf-cutting antAtta laevigata (Formicidae: Attini) marks its territory with colony-specific dufour gland secretion.

    PubMed

    Salzemann, A; Nagnan, P; Tellier, F; Jaffe, K

    1992-02-01

    The workers of the leaf-cutting antAtta laevigata were found to mark a territory around their nest and along trunk trails. Elsewhere, we reported that the territorial mark had orientation and agonistic functions. The presence of this mark induced an alarm behavior in intruder workers and stimulated the residents' aggressiveness. Of the parts of the body tested, only the extracts from gaster or Dufour gland were able to induce the same agonistic behavior. The compoundsn-heptadecane, (Z)-9-nonadecene, 8,11-nonadecadiene, and (Z)-9-tricosene, secreted by Dufour gland were identified on foraging trails in the field as components of the territorial odor.

  19. Laboratory investigations of the trail-following responses of four species of leaf-cutting ants with notes on the specificity of a trail pheromone of Atta texana (Buckley)

    Treesearch

    S. W. Robinson; John C. Moser; M. S. Blum; E. Amante

    1974-01-01

    Interspecific trail following activity of poison sac contents from four species of leaf-cutting ants was investigated. with only one exception, all the species teste followed trails made from each others poison sac contents. however when the ants were given a choice of following one of two separate trails, clear differences were shown in the poison sac contents of the...

  20. Comparative reproductive biology of the social parasite Acromyrmex ameliae de Souza, Soares & Della Lucia and of its host Acromyrmex subterraneus subterraneus Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).

    PubMed

    Soares, Ilka M F; Della Lucia, Terezinha M C; Pereira, Alice S; Serrão, José E; Ribeiro, Myriam M R; De Souza, Danival J

    2010-01-01

    Social parasites exhibit several characteristics that allow them to exploit their host species efficiently. The smaller size of parasite species is a trait commonly found in ants. In this work, we investigated several aspects of the reproductive biology of Acromyrmex ameliae De Souza, Soares & Della Lucia, a recently discovered parasite of Acromyrmex subterraneus subterraneus Forel. Sexuals of A. ameliae are substantially smaller than those from host species. Parasite queens laid significantly less worker eggs than host queens and inhibit sexual production of the host. The sex ratio of parasite species is highly female biased. Interestingly, we have observed parasite coupling on the laboratory, inside the nests and in the ground, opening the possibility to use controlled mating to study genetic approaches of parasitism in the ants.

  1. Sequential soil transport and its influence on the spatial organisation of collective digging in leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Pielström, Steffen; Roces, Flavio

    2013-01-01

    The Chaco leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri (Forel) inhabits large and deep subterranean nests composed of a large number of fungus and refuse chambers. The ants dispose of the excavated soil by forming small pellets that are carried to the surface. For ants in general, the organisation of underground soil transport during nest building remains completely unknown. In the laboratory, we investigated how soil pellets are formed and transported, and whether their occurrence influences the spatial organisation of collective digging. Similar to leaf transport, we discovered size matching between soil pellet mass and carrier mass. Workers observed while digging excavated pellets at a rate of 26 per hour. Each excavator deposited its pellets in an individual cluster, independently of the preferred deposition sites of other excavators. Soil pellets were transported sequentially over 2 m, and the transport involved up to 12 workers belonging to three functionally distinct groups: excavators, several short-distance carriers that dropped the collected pellets after a few centimetres, and long-distance, last carriers that reached the final deposition site. When initiating a new excavation, the proportion of long-distance carriers increased from 18% to 45% within the first five hours, and remained unchanged over more than 20 hours. Accumulated, freshly-excavated pellets significantly influenced the workers' decision where to start digging in a choice experiment. Thus, pellets temporarily accumulated as a result of their sequential transport provide cues that spatially organise collective nest excavation.

  2. Functional role of phenylacetic acid from metapleural gland secretions in controlling fungal pathogens in evolutionarily derived leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Fernández-Marín, Hermógenes; Nash, David R; Higginbotham, Sarah; Estrada, Catalina; van Zweden, Jelle S; d'Ettorre, Patrizia; Wcislo, William T; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2015-05-22

    Fungus-farming ant colonies vary four to five orders of magnitude in size. They employ compounds from actinomycete bacteria and exocrine glands as antimicrobial agents. Atta colonies have millions of ants and are particularly relevant for understanding hygienic strategies as they have abandoned their ancestors' prime dependence on antibiotic-based biological control in favour of using metapleural gland (MG) chemical secretions. Atta MGs are unique in synthesizing large quantities of phenylacetic acid (PAA), a known but little investigated antimicrobial agent. We show that particularly the smallest workers greatly reduce germination rates of Escovopsis and Metarhizium spores after actively applying PAA to experimental infection targets in garden fragments and transferring the spores to the ants' infrabuccal cavities. In vitro assays further indicated that Escovopsis strains isolated from evolutionarily derived leaf-cutting ants are less sensitive to PAA than strains from phylogenetically more basal fungus-farming ants, consistent with the dynamics of an evolutionary arms race between virulence and control for Escovopsis, but not Metarhizium. Atta ants form larger colonies with more extreme caste differentiation relative to other attines, in societies characterized by an almost complete absence of reproductive conflicts. We hypothesize that these changes are associated with unique evolutionary innovations in chemical pest management that appear robust against selection pressure for resistance by specialized mycopathogens. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

  3. Functional role of phenylacetic acid from metapleural gland secretions in controlling fungal pathogens in evolutionarily derived leaf-cutting ants

    PubMed Central

    Fernández-Marín, Hermógenes; Nash, David R.; Higginbotham, Sarah; Estrada, Catalina; van Zweden, Jelle S.; d'Ettorre, Patrizia; Wcislo, William T.; Boomsma, Jacobus J.

    2015-01-01

    Fungus-farming ant colonies vary four to five orders of magnitude in size. They employ compounds from actinomycete bacteria and exocrine glands as antimicrobial agents. Atta colonies have millions of ants and are particularly relevant for understanding hygienic strategies as they have abandoned their ancestors' prime dependence on antibiotic-based biological control in favour of using metapleural gland (MG) chemical secretions. Atta MGs are unique in synthesizing large quantities of phenylacetic acid (PAA), a known but little investigated antimicrobial agent. We show that particularly the smallest workers greatly reduce germination rates of Escovopsis and Metarhizium spores after actively applying PAA to experimental infection targets in garden fragments and transferring the spores to the ants' infrabuccal cavities. In vitro assays further indicated that Escovopsis strains isolated from evolutionarily derived leaf-cutting ants are less sensitive to PAA than strains from phylogenetically more basal fungus-farming ants, consistent with the dynamics of an evolutionary arms race between virulence and control for Escovopsis, but not Metarhizium. Atta ants form larger colonies with more extreme caste differentiation relative to other attines, in societies characterized by an almost complete absence of reproductive conflicts. We hypothesize that these changes are associated with unique evolutionary innovations in chemical pest management that appear robust against selection pressure for resistance by specialized mycopathogens. PMID:25925100

  4. Reproductive ecology of phorid parasitoids in relation to the head size of leaf-cutting ants Atta sexdens Forel.

    PubMed

    Farder-Gomes, C F; Oliveira, M A; Gonçalves, P L; Gontijo, L M; Zanuncio, J C; Bragança, M A L; Pires, E M

    2017-08-01

    The leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) is one of the most damaging agricultural pests in the Neotropics. Management strategies predominantly rely on the use of general insecticides. What is needed are more species-specific and environmentally friendly options. Parasitioids such as phorid flies (Diptera: Phoridae) may be one such option, but a greater understanding of the ecology of the flies and their ant hosts is essential to devise biological control strategies. Here we report parasitism rates, ant host size, parasitoid abundance per host and resultant sex ratios of two phorid species Apocephalus attophilus Borgmeier and Eibesfeldtphora tonhascai Brown parasitizing A.sexdens. The two species achieved parasitism rates of 1.48 and 1.46%, respectively and the pupal period was 14.7 ± 1.1 days and 22.1 ± 2.8 days, respectively. There was no significant difference between the head capsule width of ants parasitized by either A. attophilus or E. tonhascai. Likewise, there was no significant effect between the head capsule width of parasitized and unparasitized ants for both species. A significant positive correlation was found between the head capsule width of the parasitized ants and the number of adult parasitoids A. attophilus emerged. Ants parasitized by E. tonhascai survived significantly longer than those parasitized by A. attophilus. There was no significant effect of ant head width on the sex ratio of the offspring of either parasitoid species and no significant difference in the sex ratio (male: female) of their offspring. In summary, these data addressed here are important steps when considering natural enemies for biological control. Studying survival of the parasitized ants, parasitoid offspring sex ratio and host size preference allows for a better understanding of ant natural biological control in the field and can help in rearing of A. attophilus and E. tonhascai in laboratory.

  5. A Single Streptomyces Symbiont Makes Multiple Antifungals to Support the Fungus Farming Ant Acromyrmex octospinosus

    PubMed Central

    Seipke, Ryan F.; Barke, Jörg; Brearley, Charles; Hill, Lionel; Yu, Douglas W.; Goss, Rebecca J. M.; Hutchings, Matthew I.

    2011-01-01

    Attine ants are dependent on a cultivated fungus for food and use antibiotics produced by symbiotic Actinobacteria as weedkillers in their fungus gardens. Actinobacterial species belonging to the genera Pseudonocardia, Streptomyces and Amycolatopsis have been isolated from attine ant nests and shown to confer protection against a range of microfungal weeds. In previous work on the higher attine Acromyrmex octospinosus we isolated a Streptomyces strain that produces candicidin, consistent with another report that attine ants use Streptomyces-produced candicidin in their fungiculture. Here we report the genome analysis of this Streptomyces strain and identify multiple antibiotic biosynthetic pathways. We demonstrate, using gene disruptions and mass spectrometry, that this single strain has the capacity to make candicidin and multiple antimycin compounds. Although antimycins have been known for >60 years we report the sequence of the biosynthetic gene cluster for the first time. Crucially, disrupting the candicidin and antimycin gene clusters in the same strain had no effect on bioactivity against a co-evolved nest pathogen called Escovopsis that has been identified in ∼30% of attine ant nests. Since the Streptomyces strain has strong bioactivity against Escovopsis we conclude that it must make additional antifungal(s) to inhibit Escovopsis. However, candicidin and antimycins likely offer protection against other microfungal weeds that infect the attine fungal gardens. Thus, we propose that the selection of this biosynthetically prolific strain from the natural environment provides A. octospinosus with broad spectrum activity against Escovopsis and other microfungal weeds. PMID:21857911

  6. The effects of disturbance threat on leaf-cutting ant colonies: a laboratory study.

    PubMed

    Norman, V C; Pamminger, T; Hughes, W O H

    2017-01-01

    The flexibility of organisms to respond plastically to their environment is fundamental to their fitness and evolutionary success. Social insects provide some of the most impressive examples of plasticity, with individuals exhibiting behavioral and sometimes morphological adaptations for their specific roles in the colony, such as large soldiers for nest defense. However, with the exception of the honey bee model organism, there has been little investigation of the nature and effects of environmental stimuli thought to instigate alternative phenotypes in social insects. Here, we investigate the effect of repeated threat disturbance over a prolonged (17 month) period on both behavioral and morphological phenotypes, using phenotypically plastic leaf-cutting ants ( Atta colombica ) as a model system. We found a rapid impact of threat disturbance on the behavioral phenotype of individuals within threat-disturbed colonies becoming more aggressive, threat responsive, and phototactic within as little as 2 weeks. We found no effect of threat disturbance on morphological phenotypes, potentially, because constraints such as resource limitation outweighed the benefit for colonies of producing larger individuals. The results suggest that plasticity in behavioral phenotypes can enable insect societies to respond to threats even when constraints prevent alteration of morphological phenotypes.

  7. Herbivory by leaf-cutter ants changes the glandular trichomes density and the volatile components in an aromatic plant model

    PubMed Central

    Mayo Marques, Marcia Ortiz; Maria Rodrigues, Tatiane

    2017-01-01

    Abstract Herbivory can induce several structural and functional alterations in the plant secretory system. Glandular trichomes are the main sites of production of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with several chemical properties in Lamiaceae species. Ocimum species usually have three morphotypes of glandular trichomes (morphotype I is peltate and has a wide four-celled head; morphotype II is capitate and has a unicellular head; and morphotype III is capitate with a bicellular head) which produce a great amount of terpenes, although other chemical categories of substances are also produced. Despite the abundance of trichomes producing important anti-herbivory components in their leaves, the association between Ocimum species and leaf-cutter ants has been commonly registered in Brazil. We investigated the effect of leaf-cutter ant attack on the density of the glandular trichomes and on the chemistry of the VOCs released from leaves of O. gratissimum. Plants were subjected to Acromyrmex rugosus attack until 90 % of leaves were removed. After 40 days from the leaf-cutter attack, both treatments were sampled. The glandular trichome density was analysed by scanning electron microscopy. The VOCs were extracted utilizing headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) technique and analysed by gas chromatography. Generally, the density of glandular trichomes increased in the adaxial leaf surface of the attacked plants. However, we bring novelties on this topic since we analysed the density of each morphotype separately. The morphotype I decreased in the abaxial leaf surface, and increased in the adaxial leaf surface; the morphotype II increased in both leaf surfaces; and the morphotype III decreased in the abaxial leaf surface and remained constant in the adaxial leaf surface of attacked plants. In leaves of attacked plants, the (Z)-β-ocimene increased by 50 %, the α-selinene by 13 % and the germacrene D by 126 %, whereas the eugenol decreased by 70 %. Our data point to

  8. Growth and enzymatic activity of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, a mutualistic fungus isolated from the leaf-cutting ant Atta mexicana, on cellulose and lignocellulosic biomass.

    PubMed

    Vigueras, G; Paredes-Hernández, D; Revah, S; Valenzuela, J; Olivares-Hernández, R; Le Borgne, S

    2017-08-01

    A mutualistic fungus of the leaf-cutting ant Atta mexicana was isolated and identified as Leucoagaricus gongylophorus. This isolate had a close phylogenetic relationship with L. gongylophorus fungi cultivated by other leaf-cutting ants as determined by ITS sequencing. A subcolony started with ~500 A. mexicana workers could process 2 g day -1 of plant material and generate a 135 cm 3 fungus garden in 160 days. The presence of gongylidia structures of ~35 μm was observed on the tip of the hyphae. The fungus could grow without ants on semi-solid cultures with α-cellulose and microcrystalline cellulose and in solid-state cultures with grass and sugarcane bagasse, as sole sources of carbon. The maximum CO 2 production rate on grass (V max  = 17·5 mg CO 2  L g -1  day -1 ) was three times higher than on sugarcane bagasse (V max  = 6·6 mg CO 2  L g -1 day -1 ). Recoveries of 32·9 mg glucose  g biomass -1 and 12·3 mg glucose  g biomass -1 were obtained from the fungal biomass and the fungus garden, respectively. Endoglucanase activity was detected on carboxymethylcellulose agar plates. This is the first study reporting the growth of L. gongylophorus from A. mexicana on cellulose and plant material. According to the best of our knowledge, this is the first report about the growth of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, isolated from the colony of the ant Atta mexicana, on semisolid medium with cellulose and solid-state cultures with lignocellulosic materials. The maximum CO 2 production rate on grass was three times higher than on sugarcane bagasse. Endoglucanase activity was detected and it was possible to recover glucose from the fungal gongylidia. The cellulolytic activity could be used to process lignocellulosic residues and obtain sugar or valuable products, but more work is needed in this direction. © 2017 The Society for Applied Microbiology.

  9. Comparative morpho-physiology of the metapleural glands of two Atta leaf-cutting ant queens nesting in clayish and organic soils.

    PubMed

    Vieira, Alexsandro Santana; Camargo-Mathias, Maria Izabel; Roces, Flavio

    2015-09-01

    Queens of leaf-cutting ants found their nests singly, each consisting of a vertical tunnel and a final horizontal chamber. Because of the claustral mode of nest founding, the queen and/or her initial fungus garden are exposed to threats imposed by several soil pathogens, and the antibiotic secretions produced by their metapleural glands are considered a main adaptation to deal with them. Nests of two Atta leaf-cutting ant species, Atta vollenweideri and Atta sexdens rubropilosa, occur in different soil types, alfisols and oxisols. Their queens are known to excavate the initial nest in different soil horizons, clayish and organic, respectively, which differ in their fertility and associated microbiota. The aim of the present study was to comparatively investigate the morpho-physiology of the metapleural glands in queens of A. vollenweideri and A. sexdens rubropilosa, addressing the question whether the distinct selective pressure imposed by the microbiota in the two different soil types led to morpho-physiological differences in the metapleural glands that were consistent with their antiseptic function. The results revealed that metapleural glands of A. sexdens rubropilosa have a larger number of secretory cells, and consequently a higher production of antibiotic secretions, which may have been selected to allow nest founding at the superficial horizon of oxisols rich in organic matter and microorganisms. Glands of A. vollenweideri, on the contrary, presented fewer secretory cells, suggesting less production of antibiotic secretions. We argue that the excavation of deep founding nests in A. vollenweideri was primarily selected for during evolution to avoid the risk posed by flooding, and further hypothesize that a reduced number of cells in their metapleural glands occurred because of a weak pathogen-driven selective pressure at the preferred soil depth. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  10. Intramandibular glands in different castes of leaf-cutting ant, Atta laevigata (Fr. Smith, 1858) (Formicidae: Attini).

    PubMed

    Martins, Luiza Carla Barbosa; Della Lucia, Terezinha Maria Castro; Gonçalves, Wagner Gonzaga; Delabie, Jacques Hubert Charles; Zanuncio, José Cola; Serrão, José Eduardo

    2015-07-01

    Intramandibular glands have been poorly studied in polymorphic ants, where the differences between castes were unsufficiently scrutinized. Leaf-cutting ants possess one of the most complex systems of communication and labor division, which is polymorphic well as age polyethism, and makes them an ideal model for the study of intramandibular glands. This study has investigated the occurrence of intramandibular glands in female castes and subcastes of Atta laevigata. The mandibles of the queen, medium, and minor workers, and soldiers were submitted to histological, histochemical, ultrastructural, and morphometric analyses. The class-3 gland cells and the epidermal gland with a reservoir were found in all the castes. The queens and soldiers showed a higher number of class-3 gland cells, distributed within the mandible as well as a greater gland size in comparison to the workers. The histochemical tests, periodic acid-Schiff (PAS), mercury-bromophenol, and Nile blue, were similar for the class-3 gland cells and epidermal glands with a reservoir. However, the tests evidenced differences between the castes, with carbohydrates strongly positive in all of them, whereas neutral lipids were found in the queen and soldiers. The protein was weakly positive in the queen, whereas in the soldier, medium, and minor workers these reactions were strongly positive in the intramandibular glands. Our findings in A. laevigata suggest that intramandibular glands are directly involved in labor division and consequently in chemical communication between the castes. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

  11. Biogeography of mutualistic fungi cultivated by leafcutter ants

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    Leafcutter ants propagate co-evolving fungi for food. The nearly 50 species of leafcutter ants (Atta, Acromyrmex) range from Argentina to the USA, with the greatest species diversity in southern South America. We elucidate the biogeography of fungi cultivated by leafcutter ants using DNA-sequence an...

  12. Social life and sanitary risks: evolutionary and current ecological conditions determine waste management in leaf-cutting ants

    PubMed Central

    Farji-Brener, Alejandro G.; Elizalde, Luciana; Amador-Vargas, Sabrina

    2016-01-01

    Adequate waste management is vital for the success of social life, because waste accumulation increases sanitary risks in dense societies. We explored why different leaf-cutting ants (LCA) species locate their waste in internal nest chambers or external piles, including ecological context and accounting for phylogenetic relations. We propose that waste location depends on whether the environmental conditions enhance or reduce the risk of infection. We obtained the geographical range, habitat and refuse location of LCA from published literature, and experimentally determined whether pathogens on ant waste survived to the high soil temperatures typical of xeric habitats. The habitat of the LCA determined waste location after phylogenetic correction: species with external waste piles mainly occur in xeric environments, whereas those with internal waste chambers mainly inhabit more humid habitats. The ancestral reconstruction suggests that dumping waste externally is less derived than digging waste nest chambers. Empirical results showed that high soil surface temperatures reduce pathogen prevalence from LCA waste. We proposed that LCA living in environments unfavourable for pathogens (i.e. xeric habitats) avoid digging costs by dumping the refuse above ground. Conversely, in environments suitable for pathogens, LCA species prevent the spread of diseases by storing waste underground, presumably, a behaviour that contributed to the colonization of humid habitats. These results highlight the adaptation of organisms to the hygienic challenges of social living, and illustrate how sanitary behaviours can result from a combination of evolutionary history and current environmental conditions. PMID:27226469

  13. Social life and sanitary risks: evolutionary and current ecological conditions determine waste management in leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Farji-Brener, Alejandro G; Elizalde, Luciana; Fernández-Marín, Hermógenes; Amador-Vargas, Sabrina

    2016-05-25

    Adequate waste management is vital for the success of social life, because waste accumulation increases sanitary risks in dense societies. We explored why different leaf-cutting ants (LCA) species locate their waste in internal nest chambers or external piles, including ecological context and accounting for phylogenetic relations. We propose that waste location depends on whether the environmental conditions enhance or reduce the risk of infection. We obtained the geographical range, habitat and refuse location of LCA from published literature, and experimentally determined whether pathogens on ant waste survived to the high soil temperatures typical of xeric habitats. The habitat of the LCA determined waste location after phylogenetic correction: species with external waste piles mainly occur in xeric environments, whereas those with internal waste chambers mainly inhabit more humid habitats. The ancestral reconstruction suggests that dumping waste externally is less derived than digging waste nest chambers. Empirical results showed that high soil surface temperatures reduce pathogen prevalence from LCA waste. We proposed that LCA living in environments unfavourable for pathogens (i.e. xeric habitats) avoid digging costs by dumping the refuse above ground. Conversely, in environments suitable for pathogens, LCA species prevent the spread of diseases by storing waste underground, presumably, a behaviour that contributed to the colonization of humid habitats. These results highlight the adaptation of organisms to the hygienic challenges of social living, and illustrate how sanitary behaviours can result from a combination of evolutionary history and current environmental conditions. © 2016 The Author(s).

  14. Expressed sequence tags from Atta laevigata and identification of candidate genes for the control of pest leaf-cutting ants

    PubMed Central

    2011-01-01

    Background Leafcutters are the highest evolved within Neotropical ants in the tribe Attini and model systems for studying caste formation, labor division and symbiosis with microorganisms. Some species of leafcutters are agricultural pests controlled by chemicals which affect other animals and accumulate in the environment. Aiming to provide genetic basis for the study of leafcutters and for the development of more specific and environmentally friendly methods for the control of pest leafcutters, we generated expressed sequence tag data from Atta laevigata, one of the pest ants with broad geographic distribution in South America. Results The analysis of the expressed sequence tags allowed us to characterize 2,006 unique sequences in Atta laevigata. Sixteen of these genes had a high number of transcripts and are likely positively selected for high level of gene expression, being responsible for three basic biological functions: energy conservation through redox reactions in mitochondria; cytoskeleton and muscle structuring; regulation of gene expression and metabolism. Based on leafcutters lifestyle and reports of genes involved in key processes of other social insects, we identified 146 sequences potential targets for controlling pest leafcutters. The targets are responsible for antixenobiosis, development and longevity, immunity, resistance to pathogens, pheromone function, cell signaling, behavior, polysaccharide metabolism and arginine kynase activity. Conclusion The generation and analysis of expressed sequence tags from Atta laevigata have provided important genetic basis for future studies on the biology of leaf-cutting ants and may contribute to the development of a more specific and environmentally friendly method for the control of agricultural pest leafcutters. PMID:21682882

  15. Expressed sequence tags from Atta laevigata and identification of candidate genes for the control of pest leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Rodovalho, Cynara M; Ferro, Milene; Fonseca, Fernando Pp; Antonio, Erik A; Guilherme, Ivan R; Henrique-Silva, Flávio; Bacci, Maurício

    2011-06-17

    Leafcutters are the highest evolved within Neotropical ants in the tribe Attini and model systems for studying caste formation, labor division and symbiosis with microorganisms. Some species of leafcutters are agricultural pests controlled by chemicals which affect other animals and accumulate in the environment. Aiming to provide genetic basis for the study of leafcutters and for the development of more specific and environmentally friendly methods for the control of pest leafcutters, we generated expressed sequence tag data from Atta laevigata, one of the pest ants with broad geographic distribution in South America. The analysis of the expressed sequence tags allowed us to characterize 2,006 unique sequences in Atta laevigata. Sixteen of these genes had a high number of transcripts and are likely positively selected for high level of gene expression, being responsible for three basic biological functions: energy conservation through redox reactions in mitochondria; cytoskeleton and muscle structuring; regulation of gene expression and metabolism. Based on leafcutters lifestyle and reports of genes involved in key processes of other social insects, we identified 146 sequences potential targets for controlling pest leafcutters. The targets are responsible for antixenobiosis, development and longevity, immunity, resistance to pathogens, pheromone function, cell signaling, behavior, polysaccharide metabolism and arginine kynase activity. The generation and analysis of expressed sequence tags from Atta laevigata have provided important genetic basis for future studies on the biology of leaf-cutting ants and may contribute to the development of a more specific and environmentally friendly method for the control of agricultural pest leafcutters.

  16. Nest architecture, fungus gardens, queen, males and larvae of the fungus-growing ant Mycetagroicus inflatus Brandão & Mayhé-Nunes.

    PubMed

    Jesovnik, A; Sosa-Calvo, J; Lopes, C T; Vasconcelos, H L; Schultz, T R

    2013-01-01

    All known fungus-growing ants (tribe Attini) are obligately symbiotic with their cultivated fungi. The fungal cultivars of "lower" attine ants are facultative symbionts, capable of living apart from ants, whereas the fungal cultivars of "higher" attine ants, including leaf-cutting genera Atta and Acromyrmex , are highly specialized, obligate symbionts. Since higher attine ants and fungi are derived from lower attine ants and fungi, understanding the evolutionary transition from lower to higher attine agriculture requires understanding the historical sequence of change in both ants and fungi. The biology of the poorly known ant genus Mycetagroicus is of special interest in this regard because it occupies a phylogenetic position intermediate between lower and higher ant agriculture. Here, based on the excavations of four nests in Pará, Brazil, we report the first biological data for the recently described species Mycetagroicus inflatus , including the first descriptions of Mycetagroicus males and larvae. Like M. cerradensis , the only other species in the genus for which nesting biology is known, the garden chambers of M. inflatus are unusually deep and the garden is most likely relocated vertically in rainy and dry seasons. Due to the proximity of nests to the Araguaia River, it is likely that even the uppermost chambers and nest entrances of M. inflatus are submerged during the rainy season. Most remarkably, all three examined colonies of M. inflatus cultivate the same fungal species as their congener, M. cerradensis , over 1,000 km away, raising the possibility of long-term symbiont fidelity spanning speciation events within the genus.

  17. Density of mushroom body synaptic complexes limits intraspecies brain miniaturization in highly polymorphic leaf-cutting ant workers

    PubMed Central

    Groh, Claudia; Kelber, Christina; Grübel, Kornelia; Rössler, Wolfgang

    2014-01-01

    Hymenoptera possess voluminous mushroom bodies (MBs), brain centres associated with sensory integration, learning and memory. The mushroom body input region (calyx) is organized in distinct synaptic complexes (microglomeruli, MG) that can be quantified to analyse body size-related phenotypic plasticity of synaptic microcircuits in these small brains. Leaf-cutting ant workers (Atta vollenweideri) exhibit an enormous size polymorphism, which makes them outstanding to investigate neuronal adaptations underlying division of labour and brain miniaturization. We particularly asked how size-related division of labour in polymorphic workers is reflected in volume and total numbers of MG in olfactory calyx subregions. Whole brains of mini, media and large workers were immunolabelled with anti-synapsin antibodies, and mushroom body volumes as well as densities and absolute numbers of MG were determined by confocal imaging and three-dimensional analyses. The total brain volume and absolute volumes of olfactory mushroom body subdivisions were positively correlated with head widths, but mini workers had significantly larger MB to total brain ratios. Interestingly, the density of olfactory MG was remarkably independent from worker size. Consequently, absolute numbers of olfactory MG still were approximately three times higher in large compared with mini workers. The results show that the maximum packing density of synaptic microcircuits may represent a species-specific limit to brain miniaturization. PMID:24807257

  18. How Load-Carrying Ants Avoid Falling Over: Mechanical Stability during Foraging in Atta vollenweideri Grass-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Moll, Karin; Roces, Flavio; Federle, Walter

    2013-01-01

    Background Foraging workers of grass-cutting ants (Atta vollenweideri) regularly carry grass fragments larger than their own body. Fragment length has been shown to influence the ants’ running speed and thereby the colony’s food intake rate. We investigated whether and how grass-cutting ants maintain stability when carrying fragments of two different lengths but identical mass. Principal Findings Ants carried all fragments in an upright, backwards-tilted position, but held long fragments more vertically than short ones. All carrying ants used an alternating tripod gait, where mechanical stability was increased by overlapping stance phases of consecutive steps. The overlap was greatest for ants carrying long fragments, resulting in more legs contacting the ground simultaneously. For all ants, the projection of the total centre of mass (ant and fragment) was often outside the supporting tripod, i.e. the three feet that would be in stance for a non-overlapping tripod gait. Stability was only achieved through additional legs in ground contact. Tripod stability (quantified as the minimum distance of the centre of mass to the edge of the supporting tripod) was significantly smaller for ants with long fragments. Here, tripod stability was lowest at the beginning of each step, when the center of mass was near the posterior margin of the supporting tripod. By contrast, tripod stability was lowest at the end of each step for ants carrying short fragments. Consistently, ants with long fragments mainly fell backwards, whereas ants carrying short fragments mainly fell forwards or to the side. Assuming that transporting ants adjust neither the fragment angle nor the gait, they would be less stable and more likely to fall over. Conclusions In grass-cutting ants, the need to maintain static stability when carrying long grass fragments has led to multiple kinematic adjustments at the expense of a reduced material transport rate. PMID:23300994

  19. The construction of ventilation turrets in Atta vollenweideri leaf-cutting ants: Carbon dioxide levels in the nest tunnels, but not airflow or air humidity, influence turret structure

    PubMed Central

    Roces, Flavio

    2017-01-01

    Nest ventilation in the leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri is driven via a wind-induced mechanism. On their nests, workers construct small turrets that are expected to facilitate nest ventilation. We hypothesized that the construction and structural features of the turrets would depend on the colony’s current demands for ventilation and thus might be influenced by the prevailing environmental conditions inside the nest. Therefore, we tested whether climate-related parameters, namely airflow, air humidity and CO2 levels in the outflowing nest air influenced turret construction in Atta vollenweideri. In the laboratory, we simulated a semi-natural nest arrangement with fungus chambers, a central ventilation tunnel providing outflow of air and an aboveground building arena for turret construction. In independent series, different climatic conditions inside the ventilation tunnel were experimentally generated, and after 24 hours, several features of the built turret were quantified, i.e., mass, height, number and surface area (aperture) of turret openings. Turret mass and height were similar in all experiments even when no airflow was provided in the ventilation tunnel. However, elevated CO2 levels led to the construction of a turret with several minor openings and a larger total aperture. This effect was statistically significant at higher CO2 levels of 5% and 10% but not at 1% CO2. The construction of a turret with several minor openings did not depend on the strong differences in CO2 levels between the outflowing and the outside air, since workers also built permeated turrets even when the CO2 levels inside and outside were both similarly high. We propose that the construction of turrets with several openings and larger opening surface area might facilitate the removal of CO2 from the underground nest structure and could therefore be involved in the control of nest climate in leaf-cutting ants. PMID:29145459

  20. The construction of ventilation turrets in Atta vollenweideri leaf-cutting ants: Carbon dioxide levels in the nest tunnels, but not airflow or air humidity, influence turret structure.

    PubMed

    Halboth, Florian; Roces, Flavio

    2017-01-01

    Nest ventilation in the leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri is driven via a wind-induced mechanism. On their nests, workers construct small turrets that are expected to facilitate nest ventilation. We hypothesized that the construction and structural features of the turrets would depend on the colony's current demands for ventilation and thus might be influenced by the prevailing environmental conditions inside the nest. Therefore, we tested whether climate-related parameters, namely airflow, air humidity and CO2 levels in the outflowing nest air influenced turret construction in Atta vollenweideri. In the laboratory, we simulated a semi-natural nest arrangement with fungus chambers, a central ventilation tunnel providing outflow of air and an aboveground building arena for turret construction. In independent series, different climatic conditions inside the ventilation tunnel were experimentally generated, and after 24 hours, several features of the built turret were quantified, i.e., mass, height, number and surface area (aperture) of turret openings. Turret mass and height were similar in all experiments even when no airflow was provided in the ventilation tunnel. However, elevated CO2 levels led to the construction of a turret with several minor openings and a larger total aperture. This effect was statistically significant at higher CO2 levels of 5% and 10% but not at 1% CO2. The construction of a turret with several minor openings did not depend on the strong differences in CO2 levels between the outflowing and the outside air, since workers also built permeated turrets even when the CO2 levels inside and outside were both similarly high. We propose that the construction of turrets with several openings and larger opening surface area might facilitate the removal of CO2 from the underground nest structure and could therefore be involved in the control of nest climate in leaf-cutting ants.

  1. The Impact of Coffee and Pasture Agriculture on Predatory and Omnivorous Leaf-Litter Ants

    PubMed Central

    Dias, Nivia da Silva; Zanetti, Ronald; Santos, Mônica Silva; Peñaflor, Maria Fernanda Gomes Villalba; Broglio, Sônia Maria Forti; Delabie, Jacques Hubert Charles

    2013-01-01

    Ants are known to function as reliable biological indicators for habitat impact assessment. They play a wide range of ecological roles depending on their feeding and nesting habits. By clustering ants in guilds, it is possible both to assess how agriculture and forest fragmentation can disturb ant communities and to predict the ecological impacts due to losses of a specific guild. This study aimed at determining the impact of non-shaded coffee and pasture agriculture on predatory and omnivorous guilds of leaf-litter ants of Atlantic Forest fragments in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Both coffee and pasture agriculture influenced leaf-litter ant community, although coffee was more disruptive than pasture. Coffee agriculture not only disturbed the diversity of predatory ants, but also negatively affected the number of predatory and omnivorous ants when compared to forest fragments. In contrast, pasture agriculture only disrupted the abundance of predatory ants. Fragment edges skirting crops were negatively affected in terms of leaf-litter ant abundance, but not diversity. Cluster analysis showed that forest fragments were similar irrespective of the cultivation, but the borders were similar to the crop. The study assessed agriculture impact by surveying ant guilds, and revealed that the predatory guild is more susceptible than omnivorous ants. PMID:23902334

  2. The impact of coffee and pasture agriculture on predatory and omnivorous leaf-litter ants.

    PubMed

    Dias, Nivia da Silva; Zanetti, Ronald; Santos, Mônica Silva; Peñaflor, Maria Fernanda Gomes Villalba; Broglio, Sônia Maria Forti; Delabie, Jacques Hubert Charles

    2013-01-01

    Ants are known to function as reliable biological indicators for habitat impact assessment. They play a wide range of ecological roles depending on their feeding and nesting habits. By clustering ants in guilds, it is possible both to assess how agriculture and forest fragmentation can disturb ant communities and to predict the ecological impacts due to losses of a specific guild. This study aimed at determining the impact of non-shaded coffee and pasture agriculture on predatory and omnivorous guilds of leaf-litter ants of Atlantic Forest fragments in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Both coffee and pasture agriculture influenced leaf-litter ant community, although coffee was more disruptive than pasture. Coffee agriculture not only disturbed the diversity of predatory ants, but also negatively affected the number of predatory and omnivorous ants when compared to forest fragments. In contrast, pasture agriculture only disrupted the abundance of predatory ants. Fragment edges skirting crops were negatively affected in terms of leaf-litter ant abundance, but not diversity. Cluster analysis showed that forest fragments were similar irrespective of the cultivation, but the borders were similar to the crop. The study assessed agriculture impact by surveying ant guilds, and revealed that the predatory guild is more susceptible than omnivorous ants.

  3. Consequences of forest clear-cuts for native and nonindigenous ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Zettler, J.A.; Taylor, M.D.; Allen, Craig R.; Spira, T.P.

    2004-01-01

    Currently, the southern United States produces more timber than any other region in the world. Entire timber stands are removed through a harvesting method called clear-cutting. This common forestry practice may lead to the replacement of native ant communities with invasive, nonindigenous species. In four deciduous forest sites in South Carolina, we monitored the change in ant species richness, diversity, and abundance immediately after forest clearing for a period of 15 mo to 2 yr and determined the incidence of colonization of the red imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta into these four newly disturbed sites. Each site consisted of an uncut, forested plot and a logged, pine-planted plot. Fire ants were collected in clear-cuts as early as 3 mo postcutting, and by the end of the experiment, they were found in all four treatment sites. Our study is the first to document, through a controlled experiment, that clear-cutting alters ant species assemblages by increasing S. invicta and Pheidole spp. populations and significantly reducing native ant numbers. Long-term studies are needed to assess how replacing native deciduous forests with pine monocultures affects ant assemblages. ?? 2004 Entomological Society of America.

  4. Isolating antifungals from fungus-growing ant symbionts using a genome-guided chemistry approach.

    PubMed

    Seipke, Ryan F; Grüschow, Sabine; Goss, Rebecca J M; Hutchings, Matthew I

    2012-01-01

    We describe methods used to isolate and identify antifungal compounds from actinomycete strains associated with the leaf-cutter ant Acromyrmex octospinosus. These ants use antibiotics produced by symbiotic actinomycete bacteria to protect themselves and their fungal cultivar against bacterial and fungal infections. The fungal cultivar serves as the sole food source for the ant colony, which can number up to tens of thousands of individuals. We describe how we isolate bacteria from leaf-cutter ants collected in Trinidad and analyze the antifungal compounds made by two of these strains (Pseudonocardia and Streptomyces spp.), using a combination of genome analysis, mutagenesis, and chemical isolation. These methods should be generalizable to a wide variety of insect-symbiont situations. Although more time consuming than traditional activity-guided fractionation methods, this approach provides a powerful technique for unlocking the complete biosynthetic potential of individual strains and for avoiding the problems of rediscovery of known compounds. We describe the discovery of a novel nystatin compound, named nystatin P1, and identification of the biosynthetic pathway for antimycins, compounds that were first described more than 60 years ago. We also report that disruption of two known antifungal pathways in a single Streptomyces strain has revealed a third, and likely novel, antifungal plus four more pathways with unknown products. This validates our approach, which clearly has the potential to identify numerous new compounds, even from well-characterized actinomycete strains. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

  5. Mathematical modeling on obligate mutualism: Interactions between leaf-cutter ants and their fungus garden.

    PubMed

    Kang, Yun; Clark, Rebecca; Makiyama, Michael; Fewell, Jennifer

    2011-11-21

    We propose a simple mathematical model by applying Michaelis-Menton equations of enzyme kinetics to study the mutualistic interaction between the leaf cutter ant and its fungus garden at the early stage of colony expansion. We derive sufficient conditions on the extinction and coexistence of these two species. In addition, we give a region of initial condition that leads to the extinction of two species when the model has an interior attractor. Our global analysis indicates that the division of labor by worker ants and initial conditions are two important factors that determine whether leaf cutter ants' colonies and their fungus garden can survive and grow or not. We validate the model by comparing model simulations and data on fungal and ant colony growth rates under laboratory conditions. We perform sensitive analysis of the model based on the experimental data to gain more biological insights on ecological interactions between leaf-cutter ants and their fungus garden. Finally, we give conclusions and discuss potential future work. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

  6. Genotoxicity evaluation of two metallic-insecticides using Allium cepa and Tradescantia pallida: A new alternative against leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    de Souza, Raphael Bastão; de Souza, Cleiton Pereira; Bueno, Odair Correa; Fontanetti, Carmem Silvia

    2017-02-01

    In order to combat leaf-cutting ants, the pesticide sulfluramid used to be the most widely utilized active ingredient. However, its use was banned in 2009 by the Stockholm Convention, although some countries were allowed to continue using it. As an effective alternative to its replacement, researchers developed a metallic-insecticide system, which is a natural product linked to metal complexes. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the ability of these new metallic-insecticides in change the genetic material of non-target organisms. The tests were performed utilizing chromosomal aberrations and micronucleus tests in the Allium cepa test system and the Trad-MCN test in Tradescantia pallida. To better understand the results, one of the components of the formula, 5-methyl-phenanthroline, was also analyzed according to the same parameters. To A. cepa, the results showed that one of the metallic insecticides induced cytotoxicity and genotoxicity at different concentrations, while the other metallic-insecticide showed chromosomal instability only at the highest concentration. The analysis of 5-methyl-phenanthroline revealed that it can be related with the positive results, since genotoxic effects were induced. In the Trad-MCN test, none of the metallic-insecticides showed genotoxic activity, although one of them induced more micronucleus formation. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  7. Microbial community structure of leaf-cutter ant fungus gardens and refuse dumps.

    PubMed

    Scott, Jarrod J; Budsberg, Kevin J; Suen, Garret; Wixon, Devin L; Balser, Teri C; Currie, Cameron R

    2010-03-29

    Leaf-cutter ants use fresh plant material to grow a mutualistic fungus that serves as the ants' primary food source. Within fungus gardens, various plant compounds are metabolized and transformed into nutrients suitable for ant consumption. This symbiotic association produces a large amount of refuse consisting primarily of partly degraded plant material. A leaf-cutter ant colony is thus divided into two spatially and chemically distinct environments that together represent a plant biomass degradation gradient. Little is known about the microbial community structure in gardens and dumps or variation between lab and field colonies. Using microbial membrane lipid analysis and a variety of community metrics, we assessed and compared the microbiota of fungus gardens and refuse dumps from both laboratory-maintained and field-collected colonies. We found that gardens contained a diverse and consistent community of microbes, dominated by Gram-negative bacteria, particularly gamma-Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes. These findings were consistent across lab and field gardens, as well as host ant taxa. In contrast, dumps were enriched for Gram-positive and anaerobic bacteria. Broad-scale clustering analyses revealed that community relatedness between samples reflected system component (gardens/dumps) rather than colony source (lab/field). At finer scales samples clustered according to colony source. Here we report the first comparative analysis of the microbiota from leaf-cutter ant colonies. Our work reveals the presence of two distinct communities: one in the fungus garden and the other in the refuse dump. Though we find some effect of colony source on community structure, our data indicate the presence of consistently associated microbes within gardens and dumps. Substrate composition and system component appear to be the most important factor in structuring the microbial communities. These results thus suggest that resident communities are shaped by the plant degradation

  8. Antennal olfactory responsiveness of the Texas leaf cutting ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) to trail pheromone and its two alarm substances

    Treesearch

    N.A. Andryszak; Thomas L. Payne; J.C. Dickens; John C. Moser; R.W. Fisher

    1990-01-01

    Electroantennograms (EAGs) were recorded from major workers, queens, and males of the Texas leaf cutting, Atta texana (Buckley) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in response to serial dilutions of two alarm substances, 2-heptanone and 4-methyl-3-heptanone, and its trial phermone, 4-methylpyrrole-2-carbonxylate. The lower EAG threshold for major workers...

  9. Research on cutting path optimization of sheet metal parts based on ant colony algorithm

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wu, Z. Y.; Ling, H.; Li, L.; Wu, L. H.; Liu, N. B.

    2017-09-01

    In view of the disadvantages of the current cutting path optimization methods of sheet metal parts, a new method based on ant colony algorithm was proposed in this paper. The cutting path optimization problem of sheet metal parts was taken as the research object. The essence and optimization goal of the optimization problem were presented. The traditional serial cutting constraint rule was improved. The cutting constraint rule with cross cutting was proposed. The contour lines of parts were discretized and the mathematical model of cutting path optimization was established. Thus the problem was converted into the selection problem of contour lines of parts. Ant colony algorithm was used to solve the problem. The principle and steps of the algorithm were analyzed.

  10. Evolutionary patterns of proteinase activity in attine ant fungus gardens

    PubMed Central

    2011-01-01

    Background Attine ants live in symbiosis with a basidiomycetous fungus that they rear on a substrate of plant material. This indirect herbivory implies that the symbiosis is likely to be nitrogen deprived, so that specific mechanisms may have evolved to enhance protein availability. We therefore hypothesized that fungal proteinase activity may have been under selection for efficiency and that different classes of proteinases might be involved. Results We determined proteinase activity profiles across a wide pH range for fungus gardens of 14 Panamanian species of fungus-growing ants, representing eight genera. We mapped these activity profiles on an independently obtained molecular phylogeny of the symbionts and show that total proteinase activity in lower attine symbionts peaks at ca. pH 6. The higher attine symbionts that have no known free-living relatives had much higher proteinase activities than the lower attine symbionts. Their total in vitro proteinase activity peaked at pH values around 5, which is close to the pH that the ants maintain in their fungus gardens, suggesting that the pH optimum of fungal proteinases may have changed after the irreversible domestication of evolutionary more derived fungal symbionts. This notion is also supported by buffering capacities of fungus gardens at pH 5.2 being remarkably high, and suggests that the fungal symbiont actively helps to maintain garden acidity at this specific level. Metalloproteinases dominated the activity profiles of lower attine gardens and may thus represent the ancestral type of proteinase production, whereas serine proteinase activity dominated the activity profiles of the higher attine gardens reared by Trachymyrmex and Sericomyrmex, suggesting that there may be trade-offs in the production of these enzyme classes. Remarkably, the single symbiont that is shared by species of the crown group of Atta and Acromyrmex leaf-cutting ants mostly showed metalloproteinase activity, suggesting that recurrent

  11. Evolutionary transitions in enzyme activity of ant fungus gardens.

    PubMed

    De Fine Licht, Henrik H; Schiøtt, Morten; Mueller, Ulrich G; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2010-07-01

    Fungus-growing (attine) ants and their fungal symbionts passed through several evolutionary transitions during their 50 million year old evolutionary history. The basal attine lineages often shifted between two main cultivar clades, whereas the derived higher-attine lineages maintained an association with a monophyletic clade of specialized symbionts. In conjunction with the transition to specialized symbionts, the ants advanced in colony size and social complexity. Here we provide a comparative study of the functional specialization in extracellular enzyme activities in fungus gardens across the attine phylogeny. We show that, relative to sister clades, gardens of higher-attine ants have enhanced activity of protein-digesting enzymes, whereas gardens of leaf-cutting ants also have increased activity of starch-digesting enzymes. However, the enzyme activities of lower-attine fungus gardens are targeted primarily toward partial degradation of plant cell walls, reflecting a plesiomorphic state of nondomesticated fungi. The enzyme profiles of the higher-attine and leaf-cutting gardens appear particularly suited to digest fresh plant materials and to access nutrients from live cells without major breakdown of cell walls. The adaptive significance of the lower-attine symbiont shifts remains unclear. One of these shifts was obligate, but digestive advantages remained ambiguous, whereas the other remained facultative despite providing greater digestive efficiency.

  12. Inquiline roach responds to trail-marking substance of leaf-cutting ants

    Treesearch

    John C. Moser

    1964-01-01

    Nymphs and females of the roach inquiline, Attaphila fungicola W. M. Wheeler, respond to odor-trail substances of Atta texana (Buckley) and Trachymyrmex septentrionalis (McCook).The ants are more sensitive than roaches to the pheromone.

  13. Soil moisture and excavation behaviour in the Chaco leaf-cutting ant (Atta vollenweideri): digging performance and prevention of water inflow into the nest.

    PubMed

    Pielström, Steffen; Roces, Flavio

    2014-01-01

    The Chaco leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri is native to the clay-heavy soils of the Gran Chaco region in South America. Because of seasonal floods, colonies are regularly exposed to varying moisture across the soil profile, a factor that not only strongly influences workers' digging performance during nest building, but also determines the suitability of the soil for the rearing of the colony's symbiotic fungus. In this study, we investigated the effects of varying soil moisture on behaviours associated with underground nest building in A. vollenweideri. This was done in a series of laboratory experiments using standardised, plastic clay-water mixtures with gravimetric water contents ranging from relatively brittle material to mixtures close to the liquid limit. Our experiments showed that preference and group-level digging rate increased with increasing water content, but then dropped considerably for extremely moist materials. The production of vibrational recruitment signals during digging showed, on the contrary, a slightly negative linear correlation with soil moisture. Workers formed and carried clay pellets at higher rates in moist clay, even at the highest water content tested. Hence, their weak preference and low group-level excavation rate observed for that mixture cannot be explained by any inability to work with the material. More likely, extremely high moistures may indicate locations unsuitable for nest building. To test this hypothesis, we simulated a situation in which workers excavated an upward tunnel below accumulated surface water. The ants stopped digging about 12 mm below the interface soil/water, a behaviour representing a possible adaptation to the threat of water inflow field colonies are exposed to while digging under seasonally flooded soils. Possible roles of soil water in the temporal and spatial pattern of nest growth are discussed.

  14. Soil Moisture and Excavation Behaviour in the Chaco Leaf-Cutting Ant (Atta vollenweideri): Digging Performance and Prevention of Water Inflow into the Nest

    PubMed Central

    Pielström, Steffen; Roces, Flavio

    2014-01-01

    The Chaco leaf-cutting ant Atta vollenweideri is native to the clay-heavy soils of the Gran Chaco region in South America. Because of seasonal floods, colonies are regularly exposed to varying moisture across the soil profile, a factor that not only strongly influences workers' digging performance during nest building, but also determines the suitability of the soil for the rearing of the colony's symbiotic fungus. In this study, we investigated the effects of varying soil moisture on behaviours associated with underground nest building in A. vollenweideri. This was done in a series of laboratory experiments using standardised, plastic clay-water mixtures with gravimetric water contents ranging from relatively brittle material to mixtures close to the liquid limit. Our experiments showed that preference and group-level digging rate increased with increasing water content, but then dropped considerably for extremely moist materials. The production of vibrational recruitment signals during digging showed, on the contrary, a slightly negative linear correlation with soil moisture. Workers formed and carried clay pellets at higher rates in moist clay, even at the highest water content tested. Hence, their weak preference and low group-level excavation rate observed for that mixture cannot be explained by any inability to work with the material. More likely, extremely high moistures may indicate locations unsuitable for nest building. To test this hypothesis, we simulated a situation in which workers excavated an upward tunnel below accumulated surface water. The ants stopped digging about 12 mm below the interface soil/water, a behaviour representing a possible adaptation to the threat of water inflow field colonies are exposed to while digging under seasonally flooded soils. Possible roles of soil water in the temporal and spatial pattern of nest growth are discussed. PMID:24748382

  15. The fungal cultivar of leaf-cutter ants produces specific enzymes in response to different plant substrates

    SciTech Connect

    Khadempour, Lily; Burnum-Johnson, Kristin E.; Baker, Erin S.

    Herbivores use symbiotic microbes to help gain access to energy and nutrients from plant material. Leaf-cutter ants are a paradigmatic example, having tremendous impact on their ecosystems as dominant generalist herbivores through cultivation of a fungus, Leucoagaricus gongylophorous. Here we examine how this mutualism could facilitate the flexible substrate incorporation of the ants by providing leaf-cutter ant subcolonies four substrate types: leaves, flowers, oats, and a mixture of all three. Through metaproteomic analysis of the fungus gardens, we were able to identify and quantify 1766 different fungal proteins, including 161 biomass-degrading enzymes. This analysis revealed that fungal protein profiles weremore » significantly different between subcolonies fed different substrates with the highest abundance of cellulolytic enzymes observed in the leaf and flower treatments. When the fungus garden is provided with leaves and flowers, which contain the majority of their energy in recalcitrant material, it increases its production of proteins that break down cellulose: endoglucanases, exoglucanase and β-glucosidase. Further, the complete metaproteomes for the leaves and flowers treatments were very similar, the mixed treatment closely resembled the treatment with oats alone. This suggests that when provided a mixture of substrates, the fungus garden preferentially produces enzymes necessary for breakdown of simpler, more digestible substrates. This flexible, substrate-specific response of the fungal cultivar allows the leaf-cutter ants to derive energy from a wide range of substrates, which may contribute to their ability to be dominant generalist herbivores.« less

  16. The Genome Sequence of the Leaf-Cutter Ant Atta cephalotes Reveals Insights into Its Obligate Symbiotic Lifestyle

    PubMed Central

    Suen, Garret; Holt, Carson; Abouheif, Ehab; Bornberg-Bauer, Erich; Bouffard, Pascal; Caldera, Eric J.; Cash, Elizabeth; Cavanaugh, Amy; Denas, Olgert; Elhaik, Eran; Favé, Marie-Julie; Gadau, Jürgen; Gibson, Joshua D.; Graur, Dan; Grubbs, Kirk J.; Hagen, Darren E.; Harkins, Timothy T.; Helmkampf, Martin; Hu, Hao; Johnson, Brian R.; Kim, Jay; Marsh, Sarah E.; Moeller, Joseph A.; Muñoz-Torres, Mónica C.; Murphy, Marguerite C.; Naughton, Meredith C.; Nigam, Surabhi; Overson, Rick; Rajakumar, Rajendhran; Reese, Justin T.; Scott, Jarrod J.; Smith, Chris R.; Tao, Shu; Tsutsui, Neil D.; Viljakainen, Lumi; Wissler, Lothar; Yandell, Mark D.; Zimmer, Fabian; Taylor, James; Slater, Steven C.; Clifton, Sandra W.; Warren, Wesley C.; Elsik, Christine G.; Smith, Christopher D.; Weinstock, George M.; Gerardo, Nicole M.; Currie, Cameron R.

    2011-01-01

    Leaf-cutter ants are one of the most important herbivorous insects in the Neotropics, harvesting vast quantities of fresh leaf material. The ants use leaves to cultivate a fungus that serves as the colony's primary food source. This obligate ant-fungus mutualism is one of the few occurrences of farming by non-humans and likely facilitated the formation of their massive colonies. Mature leaf-cutter ant colonies contain millions of workers ranging in size from small garden tenders to large soldiers, resulting in one of the most complex polymorphic caste systems within ants. To begin uncovering the genomic underpinnings of this system, we sequenced the genome of Atta cephalotes using 454 pyrosequencing. One prediction from this ant's lifestyle is that it has undergone genetic modifications that reflect its obligate dependence on the fungus for nutrients. Analysis of this genome sequence is consistent with this hypothesis, as we find evidence for reductions in genes related to nutrient acquisition. These include extensive reductions in serine proteases (which are likely unnecessary because proteolysis is not a primary mechanism used to process nutrients obtained from the fungus), a loss of genes involved in arginine biosynthesis (suggesting that this amino acid is obtained from the fungus), and the absence of a hexamerin (which sequesters amino acids during larval development in other insects). Following recent reports of genome sequences from other insects that engage in symbioses with beneficial microbes, the A. cephalotes genome provides new insights into the symbiotic lifestyle of this ant and advances our understanding of host–microbe symbioses. PMID:21347285

  17. Complete Genome of Enterobacteriaceae Bacterium Strain FGI 57, a Strain Associated with Leaf-Cutter Ant Fungus Gardens

    PubMed Central

    Aylward, Frank O.; Tremmel, Daniel M.; Bruce, David C.; Chain, Patrick; Chen, Amy; Walston Davenport, Karen; Detter, Chris; Han, Cliff S.; Han, James; Huntemann, Marcel; Ivanova, Natalia N.; Kyrpides, Nikos C.; Markowitz, Victor; Mavrommatis, Kostas; Nolan, Matt; Pagani, Ioanna; Pati, Amrita; Pitluck, Sam; Deshpande, Shweta; Goodwin, Lynne; Woyke, Tanja

    2013-01-01

    The Enterobacteriaceae bacterium strain FGI 57 was isolated from a fungus garden of the leaf-cutter ant Atta colombica. Analysis of its single 4.76-Mbp chromosome will shed light on community dynamics and plant biomass degradation in ant fungus gardens. PMID:23469353

  18. Complete Genome of Serratia sp. Strain FGI 94, a Strain Associated with Leaf-Cutter Ant Fungus Gardens

    PubMed Central

    Aylward, Frank O.; Tremmel, Daniel M.; Starrett, Gabriel J.; Bruce, David C.; Chain, Patrick; Chen, Amy; Davenport, Karen W.; Detter, Chris; Han, Cliff S.; Han, James; Huntemann, Marcel; Ivanova, Natalia N.; Kyrpides, Nikos C.; Markowitz, Victor; Mavrommatis, Kostas; Nolan, Matt; Pagani, Ioanna; Pati, Amrita; Pitluck, Sam; Teshima, Hazuki; Deshpande, Shweta; Goodwin, Lynne; Woyke, Tanja

    2013-01-01

    Serratia sp. strain FGI 94 was isolated from a fungus garden of the leaf-cutter ant Atta colombica. Analysis of its 4.86-Mbp chromosome will help advance our knowledge of symbiotic interactions and plant biomass degradation in this ancient ant-fungus mutualism. PMID:23516234

  19. The fungus gardens of leaf-cutter ants undergo a distinct physiological transition during biomass degradation

    SciTech Connect

    Huang, Eric L.; Aylward, Frank O.; Kim, Young-Mo

    Leaf-cutter ants are dominant herbivores in ecosystems throughout the Neotropics. Rather than directly consuming the fresh foliar biomass they harvest, these ants use it to cultivate specialized fungus gardens. Although recent investigations have shed light on how plant biomass is degraded in fungus gardens, the cycling of nutrients that takes place in these specialized microbial ecosystems is still not well understood. Here, using metametabolomics and metaproteomics techniques, we examine the dynamics of nutrient turnover and biosynthesis in these gardens. Our results reveal that numerous free amino acids and sugars are depleted throughout the process of biomass degradation, indicating that easilymore » accessible nutrients from plant material are readily consumed by microbes in these ecosystems. Accumulation of cellobiose and lignin derivatives near the end of the degradation process is consistent with previous findings of cellulases and laccases produced by Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, the fungus cultivated by leaf-cutter ants. Our results also suggest that ureides may be an important source of nitrogen in fungus gardens, especially during nitrogen-limiting conditions. No free arginine was detected in our metametabolomics experiments despite evidence that the host ants cannot produce this amino acid, suggesting that biosynthesis of this metabolite may be tightly regulated in the fungus garden. These results provide new insights into the dynamics of nutrient cycling that underlie this important ant-fungus symbiosis.« less

  20. Discovering the Giant Nest Architecture of Grass-Cutting Ants, Atta capiguara (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)

    PubMed Central

    Forti, Luiz Carlos; Protti de Andrade, Ana Paula; Camargo, Roberto da Silva; Caldato, Nadia; Moreira, Aldenise Alves

    2017-01-01

    Atta capiguara is a grass-cutting ant species frequently found in Cerrado biome. However, little is known about the giant nest architecture of this ant. In this study, we investigated the architecture of three A. capiguara nests from a fragment of Cerrado in Botucatu, São Paulo, Brazil. Casts were made of the nests by filling them with cement to permit better visualization of internal structures such as chambers and tunnels. After excavation, the depth and dimensions (length, width, and height) of the chambers were measured. The results showed the shape of Atta capiguara nests consisting of mounds of loose soil with unique features resembling a conic section. The fungus chambers were found distant from the mound of loose soil and were spaced apart and distributed laterally at the soil profile. The waste chambers were located beneath the largest mound of loose soil. Both the fungus and waste chambers were separated and distant. Our study contributes to a better understanding of the so far unknown nest architecture of the grass-cutting ant A. capiguara. PMID:28350352

  1. Avoidance of plants unsuitable for the symbiotic fungus in leaf-cutting ants: Learning can take place entirely at the colony dump.

    PubMed

    Arenas, Andrés; Roces, Flavio

    2017-01-01

    Plants initially accepted by foraging leaf-cutting ants are later avoided if they prove unsuitable for their symbiotic fungus. Plant avoidance is mediated by the waste produced in the fungus garden soon after the incorporation of the unsuitable leaves, as foragers can learn plant odors and cues from the damaged fungus that are both present in the recently produced waste particles. We asked whether avoidance learning of plants unsuitable for the symbiotic fungus can take place entirely at the colony dump. In order to investigate whether cues available in the waste chamber induce plant avoidance in naïve subcolonies, we exchanged the waste produced by subcolonies fed either fungicide-treated privet leaves or untreated leaves and measured the acceptance of untreated privet leaves before and after the exchange of waste. Second, we evaluated whether foragers could perceive the avoidance cues directly at the dump by quantifying the visits of labeled foragers to the waste chamber. Finally, we asked whether foragers learn to specifically avoid untreated leaves of a plant after a confinement over 3 hours in the dump of subcolonies that were previously fed fungicide-treated leaves of that species. After the exchange of the waste chambers, workers from subcolonies that had access to waste from fungicide-treated privet leaves learned to avoid that plant. One-third of the labeled foragers visited the dump. Furthermore, naïve foragers learned to avoid a specific, previously unsuitable plant if exposed solely to cues of the dump during confinement. We suggest that cues at the dump enable foragers to predict the unsuitable effects of plants even if they had never been experienced in the fungus garden.

  2. Avoidance of plants unsuitable for the symbiotic fungus in leaf-cutting ants: Learning can take place entirely at the colony dump

    PubMed Central

    Roces, Flavio

    2017-01-01

    Plants initially accepted by foraging leaf-cutting ants are later avoided if they prove unsuitable for their symbiotic fungus. Plant avoidance is mediated by the waste produced in the fungus garden soon after the incorporation of the unsuitable leaves, as foragers can learn plant odors and cues from the damaged fungus that are both present in the recently produced waste particles. We asked whether avoidance learning of plants unsuitable for the symbiotic fungus can take place entirely at the colony dump. In order to investigate whether cues available in the waste chamber induce plant avoidance in naïve subcolonies, we exchanged the waste produced by subcolonies fed either fungicide-treated privet leaves or untreated leaves and measured the acceptance of untreated privet leaves before and after the exchange of waste. Second, we evaluated whether foragers could perceive the avoidance cues directly at the dump by quantifying the visits of labeled foragers to the waste chamber. Finally, we asked whether foragers learn to specifically avoid untreated leaves of a plant after a confinement over 3 hours in the dump of subcolonies that were previously fed fungicide-treated leaves of that species. After the exchange of the waste chambers, workers from subcolonies that had access to waste from fungicide-treated privet leaves learned to avoid that plant. One-third of the labeled foragers visited the dump. Furthermore, naïve foragers learned to avoid a specific, previously unsuitable plant if exposed solely to cues of the dump during confinement. We suggest that cues at the dump enable foragers to predict the unsuitable effects of plants even if they had never been experienced in the fungus garden. PMID:28273083

  3. The surrounding landscape influences the diversity of leaf-litter ants in riparian cloud forest remnants.

    PubMed

    García-Martínez, Miguel Á; Valenzuela-González, Jorge E; Escobar-Sarria, Federico; López-Barrera, Fabiola; Castaño-Meneses, Gabriela

    2017-01-01

    Riparian vegetation is a distinctive and ecologically important element of landscapes worldwide. However, the relative influence of the surrounding landscape on the conservation of the biodiversity of riparian remnants in human-modified tropical landscapes is poorly understood. We studied the surrounding landscape to evaluate its influence on leaf-litter-ant alpha and beta diversity in riparian remnants in the tropical montane cloud forest region of central Veracruz, Mexico. Sampling was carried out in 12 sites with riparian vegetation during both rainy (2011) and dry (2012) seasons. Ten leaf-litter samples were collected along a 100-m transect per site and processed with Berlese-Tullgren funnels and Winkler sacks. Using remotely-sensed and ground-collected data, we characterized the landscape around each site according to nine land cover types and computed metrics of landscape composition and configuration. We collected a total of 8,684 ant individuals belonging to 53 species, 22 genera, 11 tribes, and 7 subfamilies. Species richness and the diversity of Shannon and Simpson increased significantly in remnants immersed in landscapes with a high percentage of riparian land cover and a low percentage of land covers with areas reforested with Pinus, cattle pastures, and human settlements and infrastructure. The composition of ant assemblages was a function of the percentage of riparian land cover in the landscape. This study found evidence that leaf-litter ants, a highly specialized guild of arthropods, are mainly impacted by landscape composition and the configuration of the focal remnant. Maintaining or improving the surrounding landscape quality of riparian vegetation remnants can stimulate the movement of biodiversity among forest and riparian remnants and foster the provision of ecosystem services by these ecosystems. Effective outcomes may be achieved by considering scientific knowledge during the early stages of riparian policy formulation, in addition to

  4. The surrounding landscape influences the diversity of leaf-litter ants in riparian cloud forest remnants

    PubMed Central

    Valenzuela-González, Jorge E.; Escobar-Sarria, Federico; López-Barrera, Fabiola; Castaño-Meneses, Gabriela

    2017-01-01

    Riparian vegetation is a distinctive and ecologically important element of landscapes worldwide. However, the relative influence of the surrounding landscape on the conservation of the biodiversity of riparian remnants in human-modified tropical landscapes is poorly understood. We studied the surrounding landscape to evaluate its influence on leaf-litter-ant alpha and beta diversity in riparian remnants in the tropical montane cloud forest region of central Veracruz, Mexico. Sampling was carried out in 12 sites with riparian vegetation during both rainy (2011) and dry (2012) seasons. Ten leaf-litter samples were collected along a 100-m transect per site and processed with Berlese-Tullgren funnels and Winkler sacks. Using remotely-sensed and ground-collected data, we characterized the landscape around each site according to nine land cover types and computed metrics of landscape composition and configuration. We collected a total of 8,684 ant individuals belonging to 53 species, 22 genera, 11 tribes, and 7 subfamilies. Species richness and the diversity of Shannon and Simpson increased significantly in remnants immersed in landscapes with a high percentage of riparian land cover and a low percentage of land covers with areas reforested with Pinus, cattle pastures, and human settlements and infrastructure. The composition of ant assemblages was a function of the percentage of riparian land cover in the landscape. This study found evidence that leaf-litter ants, a highly specialized guild of arthropods, are mainly impacted by landscape composition and the configuration of the focal remnant. Maintaining or improving the surrounding landscape quality of riparian vegetation remnants can stimulate the movement of biodiversity among forest and riparian remnants and foster the provision of ecosystem services by these ecosystems. Effective outcomes may be achieved by considering scientific knowledge during the early stages of riparian policy formulation, in addition to

  5. Comparison Between Ground Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Communities Foraging in the Straw Mulch of Sugarcane Crops and in the Leaf Litter of Neighboring Forests.

    PubMed

    Silva, N S; Saad, L P; Souza-Campana, D R; Bueno, O C; Morini, M S C

    2017-02-01

    In many sugarcane plantations in Brazil, the straw is left on the soil after harvesting, and vinasse, a by-product of the production of sugar and ethanol, is used for fertigation. Our goal was to compare ant community composition and species richness in the straw mulch of sugarcane crops with the leaf litter of neighboring forests. We tested the hypothesis that ant communities in the straw mulch of vinasse-irrigated sugarcane crops and in the forest leaf litter were similar, because the combination of straw mulching and vinasse irrigation has a positive effect on soil fauna. Straw mulch and leaf litter were collected from 21 sites and placed in Berlese funnels. In total, 61 species were found in the forest leaf litter, whereas 34 and 28 species were found in the straw mulch of sugarcane fields with and without vinasse, respectively. Ant communities differed between forest and crop fields, but the species in the sugarcane straw mulch were a subset of the species found in the forest leaf litter. Although vinasse is rich in organic matter, it did not increase ant diversity. Seven feeding and/or foraging types were identified and, among the different types, surface-foraging omnivorous ants were the most prevalent in all habitats. Vinasse-irrigated sugarcane straw mulch had more predatory species than mulch from vinasse-free fields, but fewer than forest leaf litter. However, this positive effect of vinasse irrigation should be carefully evaluated because vinasse has negative effects on the environment. © The Authors 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.

  6. Ratio of Cut Surface Area to Leaf Sample Volume for Water Potential Measurements by Thermocouple Psychrometers

    PubMed Central

    Walker, Sue; Oosterhuis, Derrick M.; Wiebe, Herman H.

    1984-01-01

    Evaporative losses from the cut edge of leaf samples are of considerable importance in measurements of leaf water potential using thermocouple psychrometers. The ratio of cut surface area to leaf sample volume (area to volume ratio) has been used to give an estimate of possible effects of evaporative loss in relation to sample size. A wide range of sample sizes with different area to volume ratios has been used. Our results using Glycine max L. Merr. cv Bragg indicate that leaf samples with area to volume values less than 0.2 square millimeter per cubic millimeter give psychrometric leaf water potential measurements that compare favorably with pressure chamber measurements. PMID:16663578

  7. A comparison of height growth and leaf parameters of hybrid poplar cuttings grown in ozone-fumigated atmospheres

    Treesearch

    Keith F. Jensen

    1979-01-01

    Hybrid poplar cuttings were fumigated with an ozone dosage of 15 ppm-hours. One treatment was a steady fumigation at 0.2 ppm while the second fumigation fluctuated between 0.1 and 0.3 ppm. No significant differences were found in cutting height, leaf area, leaf width, and leaf dry weight, but significant differences were found in chlorophyll content and carbohydrate...

  8. Antagonistic interactions between garden yeasts and microfungal garden pathogens of leaf-cutting ants.

    PubMed

    Rodrigues, Andre; Cable, Rachel N; Mueller, Ulrich G; Bacci, Maurício; Pagnocca, Fernando C

    2009-10-01

    We investigate the diversity of yeasts isolated in gardens of the leafcutter ant Atta texana. Repeated sampling of gardens from four nests over a 1-year time period showed that gardens contain a diverse assemblage of yeasts. The yeast community in gardens consisted mostly of yeasts associated with plants or soil, but community composition changed between sampling periods. In order to understand the potential disease-suppressing roles of the garden yeasts, we screened isolates for antagonistic effects against known microfungal garden contaminants. In vitro assays revealed that yeasts inhibited the mycelial growth of two strains of Escovopsis (a specialized attine garden parasite), Syncephalastrum racemosum (a fungus often growing in gardens of leafcutter lab nests), and the insect pathogen Beauveria bassiana. These garden yeasts add to the growing list of disease-suppressing microbes in attine nests that may contribute synergistically, together with actinomycetes and Burkholderia bacteria, to protect the gardens and the ants against diseases. Additionally, we suggest that garden immunity against problem fungi may therefore derive not only from the presence of disease-suppressing Pseudonocardia actinomycetes, but from an enrichment of multiple disease-suppressing microorganisms in the garden matrix.

  9. Synthetic analogs of the trail pheromone of the leaf-cutting ant, Atta texana (Buckley)

    Treesearch

    Philip E. Sonnet; John C. Moser

    1972-01-01

    The preparation and bioassay of a number of analogs of the trail-following pheromone of the town ant, Atta texana (Buckley), are described. Although several compounds were quite active, isomers of the pheromone were not. The results are discussed wit ha vew to the probable conformations of these molecules.

  10. Riparian reserves within oil palm plantations conserve logged forest leaf litter ant communities and maintain associated scavenging rates

    PubMed Central

    Gray, Claudia L; Lewis, Owen T; Chung, Arthur Y C; Fayle, Tom M

    2015-01-01

    The expansion of oil palm plantations at the expense of tropical forests is causing declines in many species and altering ecosystem functions. Maintaining forest-dependent species and processes in these landscapes may therefore limit the negative impacts of this economically important industry. Protecting riparian vegetation may be one such opportunity; forest buffer strips are commonly protected for hydrological reasons, but can also conserve functionally important taxa and the processes they support. We surveyed leaf litter ant communities within oil palm-dominated landscapes in Sabah, Malaysia, using protein baits. As the scavenging activity of ants influences important ecological characteristics such as nutrient cycling and soil structure, we quantified species-specific rates of bait removal to examine how this process may change across land uses and establish which changes in community structure underlie observed shifts in activity. Riparian reserves had similar ant species richness, community composition and scavenging rates to nearby continuous logged forest. Reserve width and vegetation structure did not affect ant species richness significantly. However, the number of foraging individuals decreased with increasing reserve width, and scavenging rate increased with vegetation complexity. Oil palm ant communities were characterized by significantly lower species richness than logged forest and riparian reserves and also by altered community composition and reduced scavenging rates. Reduced scavenging activity in oil palm was not explained by a reduction in ant species richness, nor by replacement of forest ant species by those with lower per species scavenging rates. There was also no significant effect of land use on the scavenging activity of the forest species that persisted in oil palm. Rather, changes in scavenging activity were best explained by a reduction in the mean rate of bait removal per individual ant across all species in the community

  11. Uninformed sacrifice: Evidence against long-range alarm transmission in foraging ants exposed to localized abduction

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tejera, F.; Reyes, A.; Altshuler, E.

    2016-07-01

    It is well established that danger information can be transmitted by ants through relatively small distances, provoking either a state of alarm when they move away from potentially dangerous stimulus, or charge toward it aggressively. There is almost no knowledge if danger information can be transmitted along large distances. In this paper, we abduct leaf cutting ants of the species Atta insularis while they forage in their natural environment at a certain point of the foraging line, so ants make a "U" turn to escape from the danger zone and go back to the nest. Our results strongly suggest that those ants do not transmit "danger information" to other nestmates marching towards the abduction area. The individualistic behavior of the ants returning from the danger zone results in a depression of the foraging activity due to the systematic sacrifice of non-informed individuals.

  12. Psidium guajava and Piper betle leaf extracts prolong vase life of cut carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus) flowers.

    PubMed

    Rahman, M M; Ahmad, S H; Lgu, K S

    2012-01-01

    The effect of leaf extracts of Psidium guajava and Piper betle on prolonging vase life of cut carnation flowers was studied. "Carola" and "Pallas Orange" carnation flowers, at bud stage, were pulsed 24 hours with a floral preservative. Then, flowers were placed in a vase solution containing sprite and a "germicide" (leaf extracts of P. guajava and P. betle, 8-HQC, or a copper coin). Flowers treated with 8-HQC, copper coin, and leaf extracts had longer vase life, larger flower diameter, and higher rate of water uptake compared to control (tap water). The leaf extracts of P. guajava and P. betle showed highest antibacterial and antifungal activities compared to the other treatments. Both showed similar effects on flower quality as the synthetic germicide, 8-HQC. Therefore, these extracts are likely natural germicides to prolong vase life of cut flowers.

  13. Comparison of axillary bud growth and patatin accumulation in potato leaf cuttings as assays for tuber induction

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Wheeler, R. M.; Hannapel, D. J.; Tibbitts, T. W.

    1988-01-01

    Single-node leaf cuttings from potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.) cvs. Norland, Superior, Norchip, and Kennebec, were used to assess tuber induction in plants grown under 12, 16, and 20 h daily irradiation (400 micromol s-1 m-2 PPF). Leaf cuttings were taken from plants at four, six and 15 weeks after planting and cultured for 14 d in sand trays in humid environments. Tuber induction was determined by visually rating the type of growth at the attached axillary bud, and by measuring the accumulation of the major tuber protein, patatin, in the base of the petioles. Axillary buds from leaf cuttings of plants grown under the 12 h photoperiod consistently formed round, sessile tubers at the axils for all four cultivars at all harvests. Buds from cuttings of plants grown under the 16 and 20 h photoperiods exhibited mixed tuber, stolon, and leafy shoot growth. Patatin accumulation was highest in petioles of cuttings taken from 12 h plants for all cultivars at all harvests, with levels in 16 and 20 h cuttings approx. one-half that of the 12 h cuttings. Trends, both in visual ratings of axillary buds and in petiole patatin accumulation, followed the harvest index (ratio of tuber to total plant dry matter), suggesting that either method is an acceptable assay for tuber induction in the potato.

  14. Psidium guajava and Piper betle Leaf Extracts Prolong Vase Life of Cut Carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus) Flowers

    PubMed Central

    Rahman, M. M.; Ahmad, S. H.; Lgu, K. S.

    2012-01-01

    The effect of leaf extracts of Psidium guajava and Piper betle on prolonging vase life of cut carnation flowers was studied. “Carola” and “Pallas Orange” carnation flowers, at bud stage, were pulsed 24 hours with a floral preservative. Then, flowers were placed in a vase solution containing sprite and a “germicide” (leaf extracts of P. guajava and P. betle, 8-HQC, or a copper coin). Flowers treated with 8-HQC, copper coin, and leaf extracts had longer vase life, larger flower diameter, and higher rate of water uptake compared to control (tap water). The leaf extracts of P. guajava and P. betle showed highest antibacterial and antifungal activities compared to the other treatments. Both showed similar effects on flower quality as the synthetic germicide, 8-HQC. Therefore, these extracts are likely natural germicides to prolong vase life of cut flowers. PMID:22619568

  15. Whole-leaf wash improves chlorine efficacy for microbial reduction and prevents pathogen cross-contamination during fresh-cut lettuce processing.

    PubMed

    Nou, Xiangwu; Luo, Yaguang

    2010-06-01

    Currently, most fresh-cut processing facilities in the United States use chlorinated water or other sanitizer solutions for microbial reduction after lettuce is cut. Freshly cut lettuce releases significant amounts of organic matter that negatively impacts the effectiveness of chlorine or other sanitizers for microbial reduction. The objective of this study is to evaluate whether a sanitizer wash before cutting improves microbial reduction efficacy compared to a traditional postcutting sanitizer wash. Romaine lettuce leaves were quantitatively inoculated with E. coli O157:H7 strains and washed in chlorinated water before or after cutting, and E. coli O157:H7 cells that survived the washing process were enumerated to determine the effectiveness of microbial reduction for the 2 cutting and washing sequences. Whole-leaf washing in chlorinated water improved pathogen reduction by approximately 1 log unit over traditional cut-leaf sanitization. Similar improvement in the reduction of background microflora was also observed. Inoculated "Lollo Rossa" red lettuce leaves were mixed with noninoculated Green-Leaf lettuce leaves to evaluate pathogen cross-contamination during processing. High level (96.7% subsamples, average MPN 0.6 log CFU/g) of cross-contamination of noninoculated green leaves by inoculated red leaves was observed when mixed lettuce leaves were cut prior to washing in chlorinated water. In contrast, cross-contamination of noninoculated green leaves was significantly reduced (3.3% of subsamples, average MPN cutting. This result suggests that whole-leaf sanitizing washes could be a practical strategy for enhancing the efficacy of chlorine washes for pathogen reduction and cross-contamination prevention.

  16. The fungal cultivar of leaf-cutter ants produces specific enzymes in response to different plant substrates.

    PubMed

    Khadempour, Lily; Burnum-Johnson, Kristin E; Baker, Erin S; Nicora, Carrie D; Webb-Robertson, Bobbie-Jo M; White, Richard A; Monroe, Matthew E; Huang, Eric L; Smith, Richard D; Currie, Cameron R

    2016-11-01

    Herbivores use symbiotic microbes to help derive energy and nutrients from plant material. Leaf-cutter ants are a paradigmatic example, cultivating their mutualistic fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus on plant biomass that workers forage from a diverse collection of plant species. Here, we investigate the metabolic flexibility of the ants' fungal cultivar for utilizing different plant biomass. Using feeding experiments and a novel approach in metaproteomics, we examine the enzymatic response of L. gongylophorus to leaves, flowers, oats or a mixture of all three. Across all treatments, our analysis identified and quantified 1766 different fungal proteins, including 161 putative biomass-degrading enzymes. We found significant differences in the protein profiles in the fungus gardens of subcolonies fed different plant substrates. When provided with leaves or flowers, which contain the majority of their energy as recalcitrant plant polymers, the fungus gardens produced more proteins predicted to break down cellulose: endoglucanase, exoglucanase and β-glucosidase. Further, the complete metaproteomes for the leaves and flowers treatments were very similar, while the mixed substrate treatment closely resembled the treatment with oats alone. This indicates that when provided a mixture of plant substrates, fungus gardens preferentially break down the simpler, more digestible substrates. This flexible, substrate-specific enzymatic response of the fungal cultivar allows leaf-cutter ants to derive energy from a wide range of substrates, which likely contributes to their ability to be dominant generalist herbivores. © 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  17. Metagenomic and metaproteomic insights into bacterial communities in leaf-cutter ant fungus gardens.

    PubMed

    Aylward, Frank O; Burnum, Kristin E; Scott, Jarrod J; Suen, Garret; Tringe, Susannah G; Adams, Sandra M; Barry, Kerrie W; Nicora, Carrie D; Piehowski, Paul D; Purvine, Samuel O; Starrett, Gabriel J; Goodwin, Lynne A; Smith, Richard D; Lipton, Mary S; Currie, Cameron R

    2012-09-01

    Herbivores gain access to nutrients stored in plant biomass largely by harnessing the metabolic activities of microbes. Leaf-cutter ants of the genus Atta are a hallmark example; these dominant neotropical herbivores cultivate symbiotic fungus gardens on large quantities of fresh plant forage. As the external digestive system of the ants, fungus gardens facilitate the production and sustenance of millions of workers. Using metagenomic and metaproteomic techniques, we characterize the bacterial diversity and physiological potential of fungus gardens from two species of Atta. Our analysis of over 1.2 Gbp of community metagenomic sequence and three 16S pyrotag libraries reveals that in addition to harboring the dominant fungal crop, these ecosystems contain abundant populations of Enterobacteriaceae, including the genera Enterobacter, Pantoea, Klebsiella, Citrobacter and Escherichia. We show that these bacterial communities possess genes associated with lignocellulose degradation and diverse biosynthetic pathways, suggesting that they play a role in nutrient cycling by converting the nitrogen-poor forage of the ants into B-vitamins, amino acids and other cellular components. Our metaproteomic analysis confirms that bacterial glycosyl hydrolases and proteins with putative biosynthetic functions are produced in both field-collected and laboratory-reared colonies. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that fungus gardens are specialized fungus-bacteria communities that convert plant material into energy for their ant hosts. Together with recent investigations into the microbial symbionts of vertebrates, our work underscores the importance of microbial communities in the ecology and evolution of herbivorous metazoans.

  18. Metagenomic and metaproteomic insights into bacterial communities in leaf-cutter ant fungus gardens

    PubMed Central

    Aylward, Frank O; Burnum, Kristin E; Scott, Jarrod J; Suen, Garret; Tringe, Susannah G; Adams, Sandra M; Barry, Kerrie W; Nicora, Carrie D; Piehowski, Paul D; Purvine, Samuel O; Starrett, Gabriel J; Goodwin, Lynne A; Smith, Richard D; Lipton, Mary S; Currie, Cameron R

    2012-01-01

    Herbivores gain access to nutrients stored in plant biomass largely by harnessing the metabolic activities of microbes. Leaf-cutter ants of the genus Atta are a hallmark example; these dominant neotropical herbivores cultivate symbiotic fungus gardens on large quantities of fresh plant forage. As the external digestive system of the ants, fungus gardens facilitate the production and sustenance of millions of workers. Using metagenomic and metaproteomic techniques, we characterize the bacterial diversity and physiological potential of fungus gardens from two species of Atta. Our analysis of over 1.2 Gbp of community metagenomic sequence and three 16S pyrotag libraries reveals that in addition to harboring the dominant fungal crop, these ecosystems contain abundant populations of Enterobacteriaceae, including the genera Enterobacter, Pantoea, Klebsiella, Citrobacter and Escherichia. We show that these bacterial communities possess genes associated with lignocellulose degradation and diverse biosynthetic pathways, suggesting that they play a role in nutrient cycling by converting the nitrogen-poor forage of the ants into B-vitamins, amino acids and other cellular components. Our metaproteomic analysis confirms that bacterial glycosyl hydrolases and proteins with putative biosynthetic functions are produced in both field-collected and laboratory-reared colonies. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that fungus gardens are specialized fungus–bacteria communities that convert plant material into energy for their ant hosts. Together with recent investigations into the microbial symbionts of vertebrates, our work underscores the importance of microbial communities in the ecology and evolution of herbivorous metazoans. PMID:22378535

  19. Metagenomic and metaproteomic insights into bacterial communities in leaf-cutter ant fungus gardens

    SciTech Connect

    Aylward, Frank O.; Burnum, Kristin E.; Scott, Jarrod J.

    2012-09-01

    Herbivores gain access to nutrients stored in plant biomass largely by harnessing the metabolic activities of microbes. Leaf-cutter ants of the genus Atta are a hallmark example; these dominant Neotropical herbivores cultivate symbiotic fungus gardens on massive quantities of fresh plant forage. As the external digestive system of the ants, fungus gardens facilitate the production and sustenance of millions of workers in mature Atta colonies. Here we use metagenomic, and metaproteomic techniques to characterize the bacterial diversity and overall physiological potential of fungus gardens from two species of Atta. Our analysis of over 1.2 Gbp of community metagenomic sequence andmore » three 16S pyrotag libraries reveals that, in addition to harboring the dominant fungal crop, these ecosystems contain abundant populations of Enterobacteriaceae, including the genera Enterobacter, Pantoea, Klebsiella, Citrobacter, and Escherichia. We show that these bacterial communities possess genes commonly associated with lignocellulose degradation, and likely participate in the processing of plant biomass. Additionally, we demonstrate that bacteria in these environments encode a diverse suite of biosynthetic pathways, and that they may enrich the nitrogen-poor forage of the ants with B-vitamins, amino acids, and proteins. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that fungus gardens are highly-specialized fungus-bacteria communities that efficiently convert plant material into usable energy for their ant hosts. Together with recent investigations into the microbial symbionts of vertebrates, our work underscores the importance of microbial communities to the ecology and evolution of herbivorous metazoans.« less

  20. Influence of light and shoot development stage on leaf photosynthesis and carbohydrate status during the adventitious root formation in cuttings of Corylus avellana L.

    PubMed Central

    Tombesi, Sergio; Palliotti, Alberto; Poni, Stefano; Farinelli, Daniela

    2015-01-01

    Adventitious root formation in plant cuttings is influenced by many endogenous and environmental factors. Leaf photosynthesis during rooting of leafy cuttings in hard to root species can contribute to supply carbohydrates to the intensive metabolic processes related to adventious root formation. Light intensity during rooting is artificially kept low to decrease potential cutting desiccation, but can be limiting for photosynthetic activity. Furthermore, leafy cuttings collected from different part of the shoot can have a different ability to fuel adventitious root formation in cutting stem. The aim of this work was to determine the role of leaf photosynthesis on adventitious root formation in hazelnut (Corylus avellana L) (a hard-to-root specie) leafy cuttings and to investigate the possible influence of the shoot developmental stage on cutting rooting and survival in the post-rooting phase. Cutting rooting was closely related to carbohydrate content in cutting stems during the rooting process. Cutting carbohydrate status was positively influenced by leaf photosynthesis during rooting. Non-saturating light exposure of leafy cuttings can contribute to improve photosynthetic activity of leafy cuttings. Collection of cuttings from different part of the mother shoots influenced rooting percentage and this appear related to the different capability to concentrate soluble sugars in the cutting stem during rooting. Adventitious root formation depend on the carbohydrate accumulation at the base of the cutting. Mother shoot developmental stage and leaf photosynthesis appear pivotal factors for adventitious roots formation. PMID:26635821

  1. The effect of post-diapause development on respiratory function in the alfalfa leaf-cutting bee, Megachile rotundata

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    Megachile rotundata, the alfalfa leaf-cutting bee, is a solitary, cavity-nesting bee. M. rotundata develop inside brood cells constructed from leaf pieces and sealed with the female’s saliva. During development, M. rotundata may experience hypoxic conditions from the cavity in which they reside; oxy...

  2. Effect of post-fire resprouting on leaf fluctuating asymmetry, extrafloral nectar quality, and ant-plant-herbivore interactions

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Alves-Silva, Estevão; Del-Claro, Kleber

    2013-06-01

    Fires in the Cerrado savanna are a severe form of disturbance, but some species are capable of resprouting afterwards. It is unknown, however, how and whether post-fire resprouting represents a stressful condition to plants and how their rapid re-growth influences both the production of biochemical compounds, and interactions with mutualistic ants. In this study, we examined the influence of post-fire resprouting on biotic interactions (ant-plant-herbivore relationships) and on plant stress. The study was performed on two groups of the extrafloral nectaried shrub Banisteriopsis campestris (Malpighiaceae); one group was recovering from fire while the other acted as control. With respect to biotic interactions, we examined whether resprouting influenced extrafloral nectar concentration (milligrams per microliter), the abundance of the ant Camponotus crassus and leaf herbivory rates. Plant stress was assessed via fluctuating asymmetry (FA) analysis, which refers to deviations from perfect symmetry in bilaterally symmetrical traits (e.g., leaves) and indicates whether species are under stress. Results revealed that FA, sugar concentration, and ant abundance were 51.7 %, 35.7 % and 21.7 % higher in resprouting plants. Furthermore, C. crassus was significantly associated with low herbivory rates, but only in resprouting plants. This study showed that post-fire resprouting induced high levels of plant stress and influenced extrafloral nectar quality and ant-herbivore relationships in B. campestris. Therefore, despite being a stressful condition to the plant, post-fire resprouting individuals had concentrated extrafloral nectar and sustained more ants, thus strengthening the outcomes of ant-plant mutualism.

  3. Enrichment and Broad Representation of Plant Biomass-Degrading Enzymes in the Specialized Hyphal Swellings of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, the Fungal Symbiont of Leaf-Cutter Ants

    SciTech Connect

    Aylward, Frank O.; Khadempour, Lily; Tremmel, Daniel

    Leaf-cutter ants are prolific and conspicuous Neotropical herbivores that derive energy from specialized fungus gardens they cultivate using foliar biomass. The basidiomycetous cultivar of the ants, Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, produces specialized hyphal swellings called gongylidia that serve as the primary food source of ant colonies. Gongylidia also contain lignocellulases that become concentrated in ant digestive tracts and are deposited within fecal droplets onto fresh foliar material as it is foraged by the ants. Although the enzymes concentrated by L. gongylophorus within gongylidia are thought to be critical to the initial degradation of plant biomass, only a few enzymes present in thesemore » hyphal swellings have been identified. Here we use proteomic methods to identify proteins present in the gongylidia of three Atta cephalotes colonies. Our results demonstrate that a diverse but consistent set of enzymes is present in gongylidia, including numerous lignocellulases likely involved in the degradation of polysaccharides, plant toxins, and proteins. Overall, gongylidia contained over three-quarters of all lignocellulases identified in the L. gongylophorus genome, demonstrating that the majority of the enzymes produced by this fungus for biomass breakdown are ingested by the ants. We also identify a set of 23 lignocellulases enriched in gongylidia compared to whole fungus garden samples, suggesting that certain enzymes may be particularly important in the initial degradation of foliar material. Our work sheds light on the complex interplay between leaf-cutter ants and their fungal symbiont that allows for the host insects to occupy an herbivorous niche by indirectly deriving energy from plant biomass.« less

  4. Industrious leaf cutter ants and their carbon footprints

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Swanson, A. C.; Dierick, D.; Trahan, N. A.; Allen, M. F.; Schwendenmann, L.; Harmon, T. C.; Oberbauer, S. F.; Fernandez Bou, A. S.; Zelikova, T. J.

    2017-12-01

    Leaf cutter ants (LCA) are considered ecosystem engineers in Neotropical forest ecosystems because they alter physical and environmental conditions for other organisms. LCA excavate large underground nests, maintaining intricate tunnels and fungal and waste chambers, and they continuously bring in vast amounts of fresh leaf material. In order to understand their ecosystem-wide impacts, we set out to determine whether their engineering activities fundamentally alter soil structure, soil nutrient pools, and gas fluxes in a wet tropical rainforest in Costa Rica. To directly compare LCA nest to non-nest sites, we utilized embedded sensor arrays with series of soil moisture, CO2, O2, and temperature sensors placed at four soil depths and automated minirhizotrons (AMR) to measure root and hyphal production and turnover. We also collected soils for biogeochemical analyses and measured soil CO2 fluxes and carbon isotope ratios of below-ground CO2 for two years. Our measurements confirmed that LCA alter their soil environment to regulate internal soil CO2 concentrations, moisture, and temperature, increasing O2 concentrations in the process. There were marked differences in soil structure inside nests relative to non-nests and these were associated with increased root and hyphal production and turnover in nests. Soil C, N, P, and their respective degrading enzymes were highly variable among sites and between nests and controls but N and P increased with soil depth and were generally higher in nests than controls. Contrary to our expectations, C mineralization rates were lower in nests but CO2 fluxes were high from nest vents and similar to non-nests elsewhere. At the system scale, LCA appear to fundamentally change the soil environment inside their nests and create spatial heterogeneity in biogeochemical processes and root and hyphal growth, influencing the overall C balance of Neotropical forests.

  5. Enrichment and Broad Representation of Plant Biomass-Degrading Enzymes in the Specialized Hyphal Swellings of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, the Fungal Symbiont of Leaf-Cutter Ants.

    PubMed

    Aylward, Frank O; Khadempour, Lily; Tremmel, Daniel M; McDonald, Bradon R; Nicora, Carrie D; Wu, Si; Moore, Ronald J; Orton, Daniel J; Monroe, Matthew E; Piehowski, Paul D; Purvine, Samuel O; Smith, Richard D; Lipton, Mary S; Burnum-Johnson, Kristin E; Currie, Cameron R

    2015-01-01

    Leaf-cutter ants are prolific and conspicuous constituents of Neotropical ecosystems that derive energy from specialized fungus gardens they cultivate using prodigious amounts of foliar biomass. The basidiomycetous cultivar of the ants, Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, produces specialized hyphal swellings called gongylidia that serve as the primary food source of ant colonies. Gongylidia also contain plant biomass-degrading enzymes that become concentrated in ant digestive tracts and are deposited within fecal droplets onto fresh foliar material as ants incorporate it into the fungus garden. Although the enzymes concentrated by L. gongylophorus within gongylidia are thought to be critical to the initial degradation of plant biomass, only a few enzymes present in these hyphal swellings have been identified. Here we use proteomic methods to identify proteins present in the gongylidia of three Atta cephalotes colonies. Our results demonstrate that a diverse but consistent set of enzymes is present in gongylidia, including numerous plant biomass-degrading enzymes likely involved in the degradation of polysaccharides, plant toxins, and proteins. Overall, gongylidia contained over three quarters of all biomass-degrading enzymes identified in the L. gongylophorus genome, demonstrating that the majority of the enzymes produced by this fungus for biomass breakdown are ingested by the ants. We also identify a set of 40 of these enzymes enriched in gongylidia compared to whole fungus garden samples, suggesting that certain enzymes may be particularly important in the initial degradation of foliar material. Our work sheds light on the complex interplay between leaf-cutter ants and their fungal symbiont that allows for the host insects to occupy an herbivorous niche by indirectly deriving energy from plant biomass.

  6. Enrichment and broad representation of plant biomass-degrading enzymes in the specialized hyphal swellings of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, the fungal symbiont of leaf-cutter ants

    SciTech Connect

    Aylward, Frank O.; Khadempour, Lily; Tremmel, Daniel M.

    Leaf-cutter ants are prolific and conspicuous constituents of Neotropical ecosystems that derive energy from specialized fungus gardens they cultivate using prodigious amounts of foliar biomass. The basidiomycetous cultivar of the ants, Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, produces specialized hyphal swellings called gongylidia that serve as the primary food source of ant colonies. Gongylidia also contain plant biomass-degrading enzymes that become concentrated in ant digestive tracts and are deposited within fecal droplets onto fresh foliar material as ants incorporate it into the fungus garden. Although the enzymes concentrated by L. gongylophorus within gongylidia are thought to be critical to the initial degradation of plantmore » biomass, only a few enzymes present in these hyphal swellings have been identified. Here we use proteomic methods to identify proteins present in the gongylidia of three Atta cephalotes colonies. Our results demonstrate that a diverse but consistent set of enzymes is present in gongylidia, including numerous plant biomass-degrading enzymes likely involved in the degradation of polysaccharides, plant toxins, and proteins. Overall, gongylidia contained over three quarters of all biomass-degrading enzymes identified in the L. gongylophorus genome, demonstrating that the majority of the enzymes produced by this fungus for biomass breakdown are ingested by the ants. We also identify a set of 40 of these enzymes enriched in gongylidia compared to whole fungus garden samples, suggesting that certain enzymes may be particularly important in the initial degradation of foliar material. Our work sheds light on the complex interplay between leaf-cutter ants and their fungal symbiont that allows for the host insects to occupy an herbivorous niche by indirectly deriving energy from plant biomass.« less

  7. Enrichment and broad representation of plant biomass-degrading enzymes in the specialized hyphal swellings of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, the fungal symbiont of leaf-cutter ants

    DOE PAGES

    Aylward, Frank O.; Khadempour, Lily; Tremmel, Daniel M.; ...

    2015-08-28

    Leaf-cutter ants are prolific and conspicuous constituents of Neotropical ecosystems that derive energy from specialized fungus gardens they cultivate using prodigious amounts of foliar biomass. The basidiomycetous cultivar of the ants, Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, produces specialized hyphal swellings called gongylidia that serve as the primary food source of ant colonies. Gongylidia also contain plant biomass-degrading enzymes that become concentrated in ant digestive tracts and are deposited within fecal droplets onto fresh foliar material as ants incorporate it into the fungus garden. Although the enzymes concentrated by L. gongylophorus within gongylidia are thought to be critical to the initial degradation of plantmore » biomass, only a few enzymes present in these hyphal swellings have been identified. Here we use proteomic methods to identify proteins present in the gongylidia of three Atta cephalotes colonies. Our results demonstrate that a diverse but consistent set of enzymes is present in gongylidia, including numerous plant biomass-degrading enzymes likely involved in the degradation of polysaccharides, plant toxins, and proteins. Overall, gongylidia contained over three quarters of all biomass-degrading enzymes identified in the L. gongylophorus genome, demonstrating that the majority of the enzymes produced by this fungus for biomass breakdown are ingested by the ants. We also identify a set of 40 of these enzymes enriched in gongylidia compared to whole fungus garden samples, suggesting that certain enzymes may be particularly important in the initial degradation of foliar material. Our work sheds light on the complex interplay between leaf-cutter ants and their fungal symbiont that allows for the host insects to occupy an herbivorous niche by indirectly deriving energy from plant biomass.« less

  8. Enrichment and Broad Representation of Plant Biomass-Degrading Enzymes in the Specialized Hyphal Swellings of Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, the Fungal Symbiont of Leaf-Cutter Ants

    PubMed Central

    Aylward, Frank O.; Khadempour, Lily; Tremmel, Daniel M.; McDonald, Bradon R.; Nicora, Carrie D.; Wu, Si; Moore, Ronald J.; Orton, Daniel J.; Monroe, Matthew E.; Piehowski, Paul D.; Purvine, Samuel O.; Smith, Richard D.; Lipton, Mary S.; Burnum-Johnson, Kristin E.; Currie, Cameron R.

    2015-01-01

    Leaf-cutter ants are prolific and conspicuous constituents of Neotropical ecosystems that derive energy from specialized fungus gardens they cultivate using prodigious amounts of foliar biomass. The basidiomycetous cultivar of the ants, Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, produces specialized hyphal swellings called gongylidia that serve as the primary food source of ant colonies. Gongylidia also contain plant biomass-degrading enzymes that become concentrated in ant digestive tracts and are deposited within fecal droplets onto fresh foliar material as ants incorporate it into the fungus garden. Although the enzymes concentrated by L. gongylophorus within gongylidia are thought to be critical to the initial degradation of plant biomass, only a few enzymes present in these hyphal swellings have been identified. Here we use proteomic methods to identify proteins present in the gongylidia of three Atta cephalotes colonies. Our results demonstrate that a diverse but consistent set of enzymes is present in gongylidia, including numerous plant biomass-degrading enzymes likely involved in the degradation of polysaccharides, plant toxins, and proteins. Overall, gongylidia contained over three quarters of all biomass-degrading enzymes identified in the L. gongylophorus genome, demonstrating that the majority of the enzymes produced by this fungus for biomass breakdown are ingested by the ants. We also identify a set of 40 of these enzymes enriched in gongylidia compared to whole fungus garden samples, suggesting that certain enzymes may be particularly important in the initial degradation of foliar material. Our work sheds light on the complex interplay between leaf-cutter ants and their fungal symbiont that allows for the host insects to occupy an herbivorous niche by indirectly deriving energy from plant biomass. PMID:26317212

  9. Reduced biological control and enhanced chemical pest management in the evolution of fungus farming in ants

    PubMed Central

    Fernández-Marín, Hermógenes; Zimmerman, Jess K.; Nash, David R.; Boomsma, Jacobus J.; Wcislo, William T.

    2009-01-01

    To combat disease, most fungus-growing ants (Attini) use antibiotics from mutualistic bacteria (Pseudonocardia) that are cultured on the ants' exoskeletons and chemical cocktails from exocrine glands, especially the metapleural glands (MG). Previous work has hypothesized that (i) Pseudonocardia antibiotics are narrow-spectrum and control a fungus (Escovopsis) that parasitizes the ants' fungal symbiont, and (ii) MG secretions have broad-spectrum activity and protect ants and brood. We assessed the relative importance of these lines of defence, and their activity spectra, by scoring abundance of visible Pseudonocardia for nine species from five genera and measuring rates of MG grooming after challenging ants with disease agents of differing virulence. Atta and Sericomyrmex have lost or greatly reduced the abundance of visible bacteria. When challenged with diverse disease agents, including Escovopsis, they significantly increased MG grooming rates and expanded the range of targets. By contrast, species of Acromyrmex and Trachymyrmex maintain abundant Pseudonocardia. When challenged, these species had lower MG grooming rates, targeted primarily to brood. More elaborate MG defences and reduced reliance on mutualistic Pseudonocardia are correlated with larger colony size among attine genera, raising questions about the efficacy of managing disease in large societies with chemical cocktails versus bacterial antimicrobial metabolites. PMID:19324734

  10. Variation in the outcomes of an ant-plant system: Fire and leaf fungus infection reduce benefits to plants with extrafloral nectaries

    PubMed Central

    Pires, L. P.; Del-Claro, K.

    2014-01-01

    Abstract Interactions between species are evolutionary malleable and may suffer changes in small timescales. Environmental disturbances, such as fire, can deeply affect species interactions, but how they influence the outcome of a mutualistic interaction has yet to be studied. In order to test the hypothesis that an environmental disturbance, in this case fire, may produce differences in the outcome of the association of ants with the extrafloral-nectaries-bearing plant Qualea multiflora Mart. (Myrtales: Vochysiaceae), a previous study was replicated, but this time after fire incidence, at the same study site and with the same plant species. Eight ant species visited Q. multiflora , and the most abundant genera were Crematogaster , Cephalotes , and Camponotus . Herbivores were found in branches with and without ants with no statistical difference, but foliar herbivory was always higher in branchs where ants were absent. Leaves were infested by fungi, and fungi spots were higher in branches where ants were present. Compared to the previous study, it was clearly observed that ant benefits to Q. multiflora varied over time. The most common ant species still protected leaves against chewing herbivores, but a new kind of leaf damage appeared, namely fungi spots. Data also support that ants may be acting as vectors of fungi spores on plants, as ant visited branches had higher fungus incidence than non-visited branches. Fire is a major source of disturbance in tropical savannas, and we suggest that it can cause strong variation in the outcomes of interactions between ants and plants with extrafloral nectaries in the Brazilian tropical savanna. PMID:25368040

  11. The fungal cultivar of leaf-cutter ants produces specific enzymes in response to different plant substrates

    PubMed Central

    Khadempour, Lily; Burnum-Johnson, Kristin E.; Baker, Erin S.; Nicora, Carrie D.; Webb-Robertson, Bobbie-Jo M.; White, Richard A.; Monroe, Matthew E.; Huang, Eric L.; Smith, Richard D.; Currie, Cameron R.

    2016-01-01

    Herbivores use symbiotic microbes to help derive energy and nutrients from plant material. Leaf-cutter ants are a paradigmatic example, cultivating their mutualistic fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus on plant biomass that workers forage from a diverse collection of plant species. Here, we investigate the metabolic flexibility of the ants’ fungal cultivar for utilizing different plant biomass. Using feeding experiments and a novel approach in metaproteomics, we examine the enzymatic response of L. gongylophorus to leaves, flowers, oats, or a mixture of all three. Across all treatments, our analysis identified and quantified 1,766 different fungal proteins, including 161 putative biomass-degrading enzymes. We found significant differences in the protein profiles in the fungus gardens of sub-colonies fed different plant substrates. When provided with leaves or flowers, which contain the majority of their energy as recalcitrant plant polymers, the fungus gardens produced more proteins predicted to break down cellulose: endoglucanase, exoglucanase, and β-glucosidase. Further, the complete metaproteomes for the leaves and flowers treatments were very similar, while the mixed substrate treatment closely resembled the treatment with oats alone. This indicates that when provided a mixture of plant substrates, fungus gardens preferentially break down the simpler, more digestible substrates. This flexible, substrate-specific enzymatic response of the fungal cultivar allows leaf-cutter ants to derive energy from a wide range of substrates, which likely contributes to their ability to be dominant generalist herbivores. PMID:27696597

  12. Natural enemies of Atta vollenweideri (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) leaf-cutter ants negatively affected by synthetic pesticides, chlorpyrifos and fipronil.

    PubMed

    Guillade, Andrea C; Folgarait, Patricia J

    2014-02-01

    In southern South America, Ada vollenweideri Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) is a significant pest of several crops and forestry, also considered to reduce the carrying capacity of pastures. The most usual control method used in Latin America is the application of synthetic pesticides, mainly chlorpyrifos and fipronil. However, no studies have assessed the effects of these agrochemicals on natural enemies of ants. We aimed to evaluate the efficiency of these pesticides on leaf-cutter ants' control and to test their effect on phorid fly parasitoids. Chlorpyrifos failed to exert complete control over ant colonies in the field and was gravely detrimental to specific parasitoids, reducing their percentage of parasitism, pupal survivorship, and adult longevity. Fipronil, however, exerted complete control over the treated colonies. Laboratory tests using both pesticides, either on ants from foraging trails or on pupariae, showed that chlorpyrifos and fipronil decreased larval and pupal survivorship, as well as adult longevity of parasitoids, in comparison to controls. In conclusion, these pesticides will likely affect parasitoids with regard to their reproductive capacity, leading to the decreased levels of natural parasitism observed in the field after treatments. We discuss why neither pesticide should be taken into account for integrated pest management programs.

  13. The role of leaf cutter ants on soil organic carbon dynamics in a wet tropical forest

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Schwendenmann, L.; Meredyth-Young, M.; Dierick, D.; Allen, M. F.; Harmon, T. C.; Oberbauer, S. F.; Rundel, P.; Trahan, N. A.; Zelikova, T. J.

    2016-12-01

    Tropical forest ecosystems play an important role in the global carbon (C) cycle. Neotropical forests are significantly influenced by leaf cutter ants (LCA) which are the most important herbivore in these systems. LCA cut fresh leaves and bring large amounts of plant biomass into their nests to grow their fungus gardens. The excavation and continual maintenance of their large nests modifies soil characteristics and biogeochemistry with direct and indirect impacts on soil organic carbon (SOC) dynamics. The aim of this study was to quantify the effects of LCA (Atta cephalotes) on soil C mineralization, carbon degrading enzymes (β-glucosidase and α-glucosidase), and labile soil C (hot water extractable carbon) across a 1 m soil depth profile and comparing between two different soils (residual and alluvial) and forest types (primary and secondary) in a wet tropical rainforest in Costa Rica. We hypothesized that C mineralization rates will be higher inside LCA nests due to continual input of fresh organic matter, as evidenced by higher microbial biomass and carbon degrading enzymes. Similarly, we expected more labile C inside nests. All soil C parameters were highly variable among sites and between nests and controls. Carbon mineralization rates ranged from 0.02 to 0.2 µmol C h-1 g soil-1 during the initial decay phase which lasted approximately 6 days during soil incubation. The highest respiration rates were measured in the top 20 cm of the primary forest residual soil. Contrary to our expectations, C mineralization rates were higher in control soils, where C degrading enzymes were in higher concentrations (around 250 µmol). The labile soil C concentrations were variable across sites (2-25 mg C g soil-1) and higher in the upper soil profiles, but no significant differences were found between controls and nests. Our results indicate greater heterogeneity inside the nests than previously expected. We explain our findings in terms of the removal of leaf and organic

  14. Leaf-Cutter Ant Fungus Gardens Are Biphasic Mixed Microbial Bioreactors That Convert Plant Biomass to Polyols with Biotechnological Applications

    PubMed Central

    Somera, Alexandre F.; Lima, Adriel M.; dos Santos-Neto, Álvaro J.; Lanças, Fernando M.

    2015-01-01

    Leaf-cutter ants use plant matter to culture the obligate mutualistic basidiomycete Leucoagaricus gongylophorus. This fungus mediates ant nutrition on plant resources. Furthermore, other microbes living in the fungus garden might also contribute to plant digestion. The fungus garden comprises a young sector with recently incorporated leaf fragments and an old sector with partially digested plant matter. Here, we show that the young and old sectors of the grass-cutter Atta bisphaerica fungus garden operate as a biphasic solid-state mixed fermenting system. An initial plant digestion phase occurred in the young sector in the fungus garden periphery, with prevailing hemicellulose and starch degradation into arabinose, mannose, xylose, and glucose. These products support fast microbial growth but were mostly converted into four polyols. Three polyols, mannitol, arabitol, and inositol, were secreted by L. gongylophorus, and a fourth polyol, sorbitol, was likely secreted by another, unidentified, microbe. A second plant digestion phase occurred in the old sector, located in the fungus garden core, comprising stocks of microbial biomass growing slowly on monosaccharides and polyols. This biphasic operation was efficient in mediating symbiotic nutrition on plant matter: the microbes, accounting for 4% of the fungus garden biomass, converted plant matter biomass into monosaccharides and polyols, which were completely consumed by the resident ants and microbes. However, when consumption was inhibited through laboratory manipulation, most of the plant polysaccharides were degraded, products rapidly accumulated, and yields could be preferentially switched between polyols and monosaccharides. This feature might be useful in biotechnology. PMID:25911490

  15. Leaf-cutter ant fungus gardens are biphasic mixed microbial bioreactors that convert plant biomass to polyols with biotechnological applications.

    PubMed

    Somera, Alexandre F; Lima, Adriel M; Dos Santos-Neto, Álvaro J; Lanças, Fernando M; Bacci, Maurício

    2015-07-01

    Leaf-cutter ants use plant matter to culture the obligate mutualistic basidiomycete Leucoagaricus gongylophorus. This fungus mediates ant nutrition on plant resources. Furthermore, other microbes living in the fungus garden might also contribute to plant digestion. The fungus garden comprises a young sector with recently incorporated leaf fragments and an old sector with partially digested plant matter. Here, we show that the young and old sectors of the grass-cutter Atta bisphaerica fungus garden operate as a biphasic solid-state mixed fermenting system. An initial plant digestion phase occurred in the young sector in the fungus garden periphery, with prevailing hemicellulose and starch degradation into arabinose, mannose, xylose, and glucose. These products support fast microbial growth but were mostly converted into four polyols. Three polyols, mannitol, arabitol, and inositol, were secreted by L. gongylophorus, and a fourth polyol, sorbitol, was likely secreted by another, unidentified, microbe. A second plant digestion phase occurred in the old sector, located in the fungus garden core, comprising stocks of microbial biomass growing slowly on monosaccharides and polyols. This biphasic operation was efficient in mediating symbiotic nutrition on plant matter: the microbes, accounting for 4% of the fungus garden biomass, converted plant matter biomass into monosaccharides and polyols, which were completely consumed by the resident ants and microbes. However, when consumption was inhibited through laboratory manipulation, most of the plant polysaccharides were degraded, products rapidly accumulated, and yields could be preferentially switched between polyols and monosaccharides. This feature might be useful in biotechnology. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

  16. Considerations for Assessing Maximum Critical Temperatures in Small Ectothermic Animals: Insights from Leaf-Cutting Ants

    PubMed Central

    Ribeiro, Pedro Leite; Camacho, Agustín; Navas, Carlos Arturo

    2012-01-01

    The thermal limits of individual animals were originally proposed as a link between animal physiology and thermal ecology. Although this link is valid in theory, the evaluation of physiological tolerances involves some problems that are the focus of this study. One rationale was that heating rates shall influence upper critical limits, so that ecological thermal limits need to consider experimental heating rates. In addition, if thermal limits are not surpassed in experiments, subsequent tests of the same individual should yield similar results or produce evidence of hardening. Finally, several non-controlled variables such as time under experimental conditions and procedures may affect results. To analyze these issues we conducted an integrative study of upper critical temperatures in a single species, the ant Atta sexdens rubropiosa, an animal model providing large numbers of individuals of diverse sizes but similar genetic makeup. Our specific aims were to test the 1) influence of heating rates in the experimental evaluation of upper critical temperature, 2) assumptions of absence of physical damage and reproducibility, and 3) sources of variance often overlooked in the thermal-limits literature; and 4) to introduce some experimental approaches that may help researchers to separate physiological and methodological issues. The upper thermal limits were influenced by both heating rates and body mass. In the latter case, the effect was physiological rather than methodological. The critical temperature decreased during subsequent tests performed on the same individual ants, even one week after the initial test. Accordingly, upper thermal limits may have been overestimated by our (and typical) protocols. Heating rates, body mass, procedures independent of temperature and other variables may affect the estimation of upper critical temperatures. Therefore, based on our data, we offer suggestions to enhance the quality of measurements, and offer recommendations to

  17. Ants at Plant Wounds: A Little-Known Trophic Interaction with Evolutionary Implications for Ant-Plant Interactions.

    PubMed

    Staab, Michael; Fornoff, Felix; Klein, Alexandra-Maria; Blüthgen, Nico

    2017-09-01

    Extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) allow plants to engage in mutualisms with ants, preventing herbivory in exchange for food. EFNs occur scattered throughout the plant phylogeny and likely evolved independent from herbivore-created wounds subsequently visited by ants collecting leaked sap. Records of wound-feeding ants are, however, anecdotal. By surveying 38,000 trees from 40 species, we conducted the first quantitative ecological study of this overlooked behavior. Ant-wound interactions were widespread (0.5% of tree individuals) and occurred on 23 tree species. Interaction networks were opportunistic, closely resembling ant-EFN networks. Fagaceae, a family lacking EFNs, was strongly overrepresented. For Fagaceae, ant occurrence at wounds correlated with species-level leaf damage, potentially indicating that wounds may attract mutualistic ants, which supports the hypothesis of ant-tended wounds as precursors of ant-EFN mutualisms. Given that herbivore wounds are common, wound sap as a steadily available food source might further help to explain the overwhelming abundance of ants in (sub)tropical forest canopies.

  18. Fluid intake rates in ants correlate with their feeding habits.

    PubMed

    Paul, J; Roces, F

    2003-04-01

    This study investigates the techniques of nectar feeding in 11 different ant species, and quantitatively compares fluid intake rates over a wide range of nectar concentrations in four species that largely differ in their feeding habits. Ants were observed to employ two different techniques for liquid food intake, in which the glossa works either as a passive duct-like structure (sucking), or as an up- and downwards moving shovel (licking). The technique employed for collecting fluids at ad libitum food sources was observed to be species-specific and to correlate with the presence or absence of a well-developed crop in the species under scrutiny. Workers of ponerine ants licked fluid food during foraging and transported it as a droplet between their mandibles, whereas workers of species belonging to phylogenetically more advanced subfamilies, with a crop capable of storing liquids, sucked the fluid food, such as formicine ants of the genus Camponotus. In order to evaluate the performance of fluid collection during foraging, intake rates for sucrose solutions of different concentrations were measured in four ant species that differ in their foraging ecology. Scaling functions between fluid intake rates and ant size were first established for the polymorphic species, so as to compare ants of different size across species. Results showed that fluid intake rate depended, as expected and previously reported in the literature, on sugar concentration and the associated fluid viscosity. It also depended on both the species-specific feeding technique and the extent of specialization on foraging on liquid food. For similarly-sized ants, workers of two nectar-feeding ant species, Camponotus rufipes (Formicinae) and Pachycondyla villosa (Ponerinae), collected fluids with the highest intake rates, while workers of the leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens (Myrmicinae) and a predatory ant from the Rhytidoponera impressa-complex (Ponerinae) did so with the lowest rate. Calculating the

  19. Nature of the interactions between hypocrealean fungi and the mutualistic fungus of leaf-cutter ants.

    PubMed

    Varanda-Haifig, Sadala Schmidt; Albarici, Tatiane Regina; Nunes, Pablo Henrique; Haifig, Ives; Vieira, Paulo Cezar; Rodrigues, Andre

    2017-04-01

    Leaf-cutter ants cultivate and feed on the mutualistic fungus, Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, which is threatened by parasitic fungi of the genus Escovopsis. The mechanism of Escovopsis parasitism is poorly understood. Here, we assessed the nature of the antagonism of different Escovopsis species against its host. We also evaluated the potential antagonism of Escovopsioides, a recently described fungal genus from the attine ant environment whose role in the colonies of these insects is unknown. We performed dual-culture assays to assess the interactions between L. gongylophorus and both fungi. We also evaluated the antifungal activity of compounds secreted by the latter on L. gongylophorus growth using crude extracts of Escovopsis spp. and Escovopsioides nivea obtained either in (1) absence or (2) presence of the mutualistic fungus. The physical interaction between these fungi and the mutualistic fungus was examined under scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Escovopsis spp. and E. nivea negatively affected the growth of L. gongylophorus, which was also significantly inhibited by both types of crude extract. These results indicate that Escovopsis spp. and E. nivea produce antifungal metabolites against the mutualistic fungus. SEM showed that Escovopsis spp. and E. nivea maintained physical contact with the mutualistic fungus, though no specialised structures related to mycoparasitism were observed. These results showed that Escovopsis is a destructive mycoparasite that needs physical contact for the death of the mutualistic fungus to occur. Also, our findings suggest that E. nivea is an antagonist of the ant fungal cultivar.

  20. Mutualistic ants contribute to tank-bromeliad nutrition.

    PubMed

    Leroy, Céline; Carrias, Jean-François; Corbara, Bruno; Pélozuelo, Laurent; Dézerald, Olivier; Brouard, Olivier; Dejean, Alain; Céréghino, Régis

    2013-09-01

    Epiphytism imposes physiological constraints resulting from the lack of access to the nutrient sources available to ground-rooted plants. A conspicuous adaptation in response to that lack is the phytotelm (plant-held waters) of tank-bromeliad species that are often nutrient-rich. Associations with terrestrial invertebrates also result in higher plant nutrient acquisition. Assuming that tank-bromeliads rely on reservoir-assisted nutrition, it was hypothesized that the dual association with mutualistic ants and the phytotelm food web provides greater nutritional benefits to the plant compared with those bromeliads involved in only one of these two associations. Quantitative (water volume, amount of fine particulate organic matter, predator/prey ratio, algal density) and qualitative variables (ant-association and photosynthetic pathways) were compared for eight tank- and one tankless-bromeliad morphospecies from French Guiana. An analysis was also made of which of these variables affect nitrogen acquisition (leaf N and δ(15)N). All variables were significantly different between tank-bromeliad species. Leaf N concentrations and leaf δ(15)N were both positively correlated with the presence of mutualistic ants. The amount of fine particulate organic matter and predator/prey ratio had a positive and negative effect on leaf δ(15)N, respectively. Water volume was positively correlated with leaf N concentration whereas algal density was negatively correlated. Finally, the photosynthetic pathway (C3 vs. CAM) was positively correlated with leaf N concentration with a slightly higher N concentration for C3-Tillandsioideae compared with CAM-Bromelioideae. The study suggests that some of the differences in N nutrition between bromeliad species can be explained by the presence of mutualistic ants. From a nutritional standpoint, it is more advantageous for a bromeliad to use myrmecotrophy via its roots than to use carnivory via its tank. The results highlight a gap in our

  1. Mutualistic ants contribute to tank-bromeliad nutrition

    PubMed Central

    Leroy, Céline; Carrias, Jean-François; Corbara, Bruno; Pélozuelo, Laurent; Dézerald, Olivier; Brouard, Olivier; Dejean, Alain; Céréghino, Régis

    2013-01-01

    Background and Aims Epiphytism imposes physiological constraints resulting from the lack of access to the nutrient sources available to ground-rooted plants. A conspicuous adaptation in response to that lack is the phytotelm (plant-held waters) of tank-bromeliad species that are often nutrient-rich. Associations with terrestrial invertebrates also result in higher plant nutrient acquisition. Assuming that tank-bromeliads rely on reservoir-assisted nutrition, it was hypothesized that the dual association with mutualistic ants and the phytotelm food web provides greater nutritional benefits to the plant compared with those bromeliads involved in only one of these two associations. Methods Quantitative (water volume, amount of fine particulate organic matter, predator/prey ratio, algal density) and qualitative variables (ant-association and photosynthetic pathways) were compared for eight tank- and one tankless-bromeliad morphospecies from French Guiana. An analysis was also made of which of these variables affect nitrogen acquisition (leaf N and δ15N). Key Results All variables were significantly different between tank-bromeliad species. Leaf N concentrations and leaf δ15N were both positively correlated with the presence of mutualistic ants. The amount of fine particulate organic matter and predator/prey ratio had a positive and negative effect on leaf δ15N, respectively. Water volume was positively correlated with leaf N concentration whereas algal density was negatively correlated. Finally, the photosynthetic pathway (C3 vs. CAM) was positively correlated with leaf N concentration with a slightly higher N concentration for C3-Tillandsioideae compared with CAM-Bromelioideae. Conclusions The study suggests that some of the differences in N nutrition between bromeliad species can be explained by the presence of mutualistic ants. From a nutritional standpoint, it is more advantageous for a bromeliad to use myrmecotrophy via its roots than to use carnivory via its

  2. Rarity and diversity in forest ant assemblages of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Lessard, J.-P.; Dunn, R.R.; Parker, C.R.; Sanders, N.J.

    2007-01-01

    We report on a systematic survey of the ant fauna occurring in hardwood forests in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At 22-mixed hardwood sites, we collected leaf-litter ant species using Winkler samplers. At eight of those sites, we also collected ants using pitfall and Malaise traps. In total, we collected 53 ant species. As shown in other studies, ant species richness tended to decline with increasing elevation. Leaf-litter ant assemblages were also highly nested. Several common species were both locally abundant and had broad distributions, while many other species were rarely detected. Winkler samplers, pitfall traps, and Malaise traps yielded samples that differed in composition, but not richness, from one another. Taken together, our work begins to illuminate the factors that govern the diversity, distribution, abundance, and perhaps rarity of ants of forested ecosystems in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

  3. Response Ant Colony Optimization of End Milling Surface Roughness

    PubMed Central

    Kadirgama, K.; Noor, M. M.; Abd Alla, Ahmed N.

    2010-01-01

    Metal cutting processes are important due to increased consumer demands for quality metal cutting related products (more precise tolerances and better product surface roughness) that has driven the metal cutting industry to continuously improve quality control of metal cutting processes. This paper presents optimum surface roughness by using milling mould aluminium alloys (AA6061-T6) with Response Ant Colony Optimization (RACO). The approach is based on Response Surface Method (RSM) and Ant Colony Optimization (ACO). The main objectives to find the optimized parameters and the most dominant variables (cutting speed, feedrate, axial depth and radial depth). The first order model indicates that the feedrate is the most significant factor affecting surface roughness. PMID:22294914

  4. Plant defense, herbivory, and the growth of Cordia alliodora trees and their symbiotic Azteca ant colonies.

    PubMed

    Pringle, Elizabeth G; Dirzo, Rodolfo; Gordon, Deborah M

    2012-11-01

    The effects of herbivory on plant fitness are integrated over a plant's lifetime, mediated by ontogenetic changes in plant defense, tolerance, and herbivore pressure. In symbiotic ant-plant mutualisms, plants provide nesting space and food for ants, and ants defend plants against herbivores. The benefit to the plant of sustaining the growth of symbiotic ant colonies depends on whether defense by the growing ant colony outpaces the plant's growth in defendable area and associated herbivore pressure. These relationships were investigated in the symbiotic mutualism between Cordia alliodora trees and Azteca pittieri ants in a Mexican tropical dry forest. As ant colonies grew, worker production remained constant relative to ant-colony size. As trees grew, leaf production increased relative to tree size. Moreover, larger trees hosted lower densities of ants, suggesting that ant-colony growth did not keep pace with tree growth. On leaves with ants experimentally excluded, herbivory per unit leaf area increased exponentially with tree size, indicating that larger trees experienced higher herbivore pressure per leaf area than smaller trees. Even with ant defense, herbivory increased with tree size. Therefore, although larger trees had larger ant colonies, ant density was lower in larger trees, and the ant colonies did not provide sufficient defense to compensate for the higher herbivore pressure in larger trees. These results suggest that in this system the tree can decrease herbivory by promoting ant-colony growth, i.e., sustaining space and food investment in ants, as long as the tree continues to grow.

  5. The conservation value of South East Asia's highly degraded forests: evidence from leaf-litter ants

    PubMed Central

    Woodcock, Paul; Edwards, David P.; Fayle, Tom M.; Newton, Rob J.; Khen, Chey Vun; Bottrell, Simon H.; Hamer, Keith C.

    2011-01-01

    South East Asia is widely regarded as a centre of threatened biodiversity owing to extensive logging and forest conversion to agriculture. In particular, forests degraded by repeated rounds of intensive logging are viewed as having little conservation value and are afforded meagre protection from conversion to oil palm. Here, we determine the biological value of such heavily degraded forests by comparing leaf-litter ant communities in unlogged (natural) and twice-logged forests in Sabah, Borneo. We accounted for impacts of logging on habitat heterogeneity by comparing species richness and composition at four nested spatial scales, and examining how species richness was partitioned across the landscape in each habitat. We found that twice-logged forest had fewer species occurrences, lower species richness at small spatial scales and altered species composition compared with natural forests. However, over 80 per cent of species found in unlogged forest were detected within twice-logged forest. Moreover, greater species turnover among sites in twice-logged forest resulted in identical species richness between habitats at the largest spatial scale. While two intensive logging cycles have negative impacts on ant communities, these degraded forests clearly provide important habitat for numerous species and preventing their conversion to oil palm and other crops should be a conservation priority. PMID:22006966

  6. Weaver ant role in cashew orchards in Vietnam.

    PubMed

    Peng, Renkang; Lan, La Pham; Christian, Keith

    2014-08-01

    Cashew (Anacardium occidentale L.) is a very important source of income for more than 200,000 farmer households in Vietnam. The present cashew productivity in Vietnam is low and unstable, and pest damage is partly responsible for this. Cashew farmers rely on pesticides to minimize the damage, resulting in adverse impacts on farm environment and farmers' health. Weaver ants (Oecophylla spp) are effective biocontrol agents of a range of cashew insect pests in several cashew-growing countries, and these ants are widely distributed in Vietnam. The aim of this study is to evaluate the potential of weaver ants in cashew orchards in Vietnam. Field surveys and field experiment were conducted in five cashew orchards from July 2006 to January 2008 in Binh Phuoc, Dong Nai, and Ba Ria Vung Tau provinces, Vietnam. Based on the field surveys, the most important pests that damage flushing foliar and floral shoots and young cashew fruits and nuts were mosquito bugs, brown shoot borers, blue shoot borers, and fruit-nut borers. The damage caused by each of these pests was significantly lower on trees with weaver ants compared with trees without the ants, showing that the ants were able to keep these pest damages under the control threshold. Regular monitoring of the field experiment showed that weaver ants were similar to insecticides for controlling mosquito bugs, blue shoot borers, fruit-nut borers, leaf rollers, and leaf miners. Aphids did not become major pests in plot with weaver ants. To manage insect pest assemblage in cashew orchards, an integrated pest management using weaver ants as a major component is discussed.

  7. Differential Recruitment of Camponotus femoratus (Fabricius) Ants in Response to Ant Garden Herbivory.

    PubMed

    Vicente, R E; Dáttilo, W; Izzo, T J

    2014-12-01

    Although several studies have shown that ants can recognize chemical cues from their host plants in ant-plant systems, it is poorly demonstrated in ant gardens (AGs). In this interaction, ant species constantly interact with various epiphyte species. Therefore, it is possible to expect a convergence of chemical signals released by plants that could be acting to ensure that ants are able to recognize and defend epiphyte species frequently associated with AGs. In this study, it was hypothesized that ants recognize and differentiate among chemical stimuli released by AG epiphytes and non-AG epiphytes. We experimentally simulated leaf herbivore damage on three epiphyte species restricted to AGs and a locally abundant understory herb, Piper hispidum, in order to quantify the number of recruited Camponotus femoratus (Fabricius) defenders. When exposed to the AG epiphytes Peperomia macrostachya and Codonanthe uleana leaves, it was observed that the recruitment of C. femoratus workers was, on average, respectively 556% and 246% higher than control. However, the number of ants recruited by the AG epiphyte Markea longiflora or by the non-AG plant did not differ from paper pieces. This indicated that ants could discern between chemicals released by different plants, suggesting that ants can select better plants. These results can be explained by evolutionary process acting on both ants' capability in discerning plants' chemical compounds (innate attraction) or by ants' learning based on the epiphyte frequency in AGs (individual experience). To disentangle an innate behavior, a product of classical coevolutionary process, from an ant's learned behavior, is a complicated but important subject to understand in the evolution of ant-plant mutualisms.

  8. Forestry alters foraging efficiency and crop contents of aphid-tending red wood ants, Formica aquilonia.

    PubMed

    Johansson, Therese; Gibb, Heloise

    2012-01-01

    Forest management alters species behaviours, distributions and interactions. To evaluate forestry effects on ant foraging performance, we compared the quality and quantity of honeydew harvested by ants among clear-cuts, middle-aged and mature spruce-dominated stands in boreal forests in Sweden. Honeydew quality was examined using honeydew collected by squeezing the gasters of laden Formica aquilonia workers. We used fifteen laden individuals at each study site (four replicates of each stand age) and analysed honeydew chemical composition with gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy. To compare the quantity of honeydew collected by individual ants, we collected and weighed five ants moving up and five ants moving down each of ten trees at the twelve sites (totally 1200 ants). The concentration of trehalose in honeydew was lower in clear-cuts compared with middle aged and mature stands, and similar trends were shown for sucrose, raffinose and melezitose, indicating poorer honeydew quality on clear cuts. Concentrations of the amino acid serine were higher on clear-cuts. The same trend occurred for glutamine, suggesting that increased N-uptake by the trees after clear cutting is reflected in the honeydew of aphids. Ants in mature stands had larger heads and carried proportionally more honeydew and may therefore be more efficient foragers. Human alternation of habitats through clear-cutting thus affects food quality and worker condition in F. aquilonia. This is the first study to show that honeydew quality is affected by anthropogenic disturbances, likely contributing to the reduction in size and abundance of F. aquilonia workers and mounds after clear cutting.

  9. Specialization and group size: brain and behavioural correlates of colony size in ants lacking morphological castes

    PubMed Central

    Amador-Vargas, Sabrina; Gronenberg, Wulfila; Wcislo, William T.; Mueller, Ulrich

    2015-01-01

    Group size in both multicellular organisms and animal societies can correlate with the degree of division of labour. For ants, the task specialization hypothesis (TSH) proposes that increased behavioural specialization enabled by larger group size corresponds to anatomical specialization of worker brains. Alternatively, the social brain hypothesis proposes that increased levels of social stimuli in larger colonies lead to enlarged brain regions in all workers, regardless of their task specialization. We tested these hypotheses in acacia ants (Pseudomyrmex spinicola), which exhibit behavioural but not morphological task specialization. In wild colonies, we marked, followed and tested ant workers involved in foraging tasks on the leaves (leaf-ants) and in defensive tasks on the host tree trunk (trunk-ants). Task specialization increased with colony size, especially in defensive tasks. The relationship between colony size and brain region volume was task-dependent, supporting the TSH. Specifically, as colony size increased, the relative size of regions within the mushroom bodies of the brain decreased in trunk-ants but increased in leaf-ants; those regions play important roles in learning and memory. Our findings suggest that workers specialized in defence may have reduced learning abilities relative to leaf-ants; these inferences remain to be tested. In societies with monomorphic workers, brain polymorphism enhanced by group size could be a mechanism by which division of labour is achieved. PMID:25567649

  10. Are Tree Species Diversity and Genotypic Diversity Effects on Insect Herbivores Mediated by Ants?

    PubMed Central

    Campos-Navarrete, María José; Abdala-Roberts, Luis; Munguía-Rosas, Miguel A.; Parra-Tabla, Víctor

    2015-01-01

    Plant diversity can influence predators and omnivores and such effects may in turn influence herbivores and plants. However, evidence for these ecological feedbacks is rare. We evaluated if the effects of tree species (SD) and genotypic diversity (GD) on the abundance of different guilds of insect herbivores associated with big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) were contingent upon the protective effects of ants tending extra-floral nectaries of this species. This study was conducted within a larger experiment consisting of mahogany monocultures and species polycultures of four species and –within each of these two plot types– mahogany was represented by either one or four maternal families. We selected 24 plots spanning these treatment combinations, 10 mahogany plants/plot, and within each plot experimentally reduced ant abundance on half of the selected plants, and surveyed ant and herbivore abundance. There were positive effects of SD on generalist leaf-chewers and sap-feeders, but for the latter group this effect depended on the ant reduction treatment: SD positively influenced sap-feeders under ambient ant abundance but had no effect when ant abundance was reduced; at the same time, ants had negative effects on sap feeders in monoculture but no effect in polyculture. In contrast, SD did not influence specialist stem-borers or leaf-miners and this effect was not contingent upon ant reduction. Finally, GD did not influence any of the herbivore guilds studied, and such effects did not depend on the ant treatment. Overall, we show that tree species diversity influenced interactions between a focal plant species (mahogany) and ants, and that such effects in turn mediated plant diversity effects on some (sap-feeders) but not all the herbivores guilds studied. Our results suggest that the observed patterns are dependent on the combined effects of herbivore identity, diet breadth, and the source of plant diversity. PMID:26241962

  11. The effects of ant nests on soil fertility and plant performance: a meta-analysis.

    PubMed

    Farji-Brener, Alejandro G; Werenkraut, Victoria

    2017-07-01

    Ants are recognized as one of the major sources of soil disturbance world-wide. However, this view is largely based on isolated studies and qualitative reviews. Here, for the first time, we quantitatively determined whether ant nests affect soil fertility and plant performance, and identified the possible sources of variation of these effects. Using Bayesian mixed-models meta-analysis, we tested the hypotheses that ant effects on soil fertility and plant performance depend on the substrate sampled, ant feeding type, latitude, habitat and the plant response variable measured. Ant nests showed higher nutrient and cation content than adjacent non-nest soil samples, but similar pH. Nutrient content was higher in ant refuse materials than in nest soils. The fertilizer effect of ant nests was also higher in dry habitats than in grasslands or savannas. Cation content was higher in nests of plant-feeding ants than in nests of omnivorous species, and lower in nests from agro-ecosystems than in nests from any other habitat. Plants showed higher green/root biomass and fitness on ant nests soils than in adjacent, non-nest sites; but plant density and diversity were unaffected by the presence of ant nests. Root growth was particularly higher in refuse materials than in ant nest soils, in leaf-cutting ant nests and in deserts habitats. Our results confirm the major role of ant nests in influencing soil fertility and vegetation patterns and provide information about the factors that mediate these effects. First, ant nests improve soil fertility mainly through the accumulation of refuse materials. Thus, different refuse dump locations (external or in underground nest chambers) could benefit different vegetation life-forms. Second, ant nests could increase plant diversity at larger spatial scales only if the identity of favoured plants changes along environmental gradients (i.e. enhancing β-diversity). Third, ant species that feed on plants play a relevant role fertilizing soils

  12. Loss of Wolbachia infection during colonisation in the invasive Argentine ant Linepithema humile.

    PubMed

    Reuter, M; Pedersen, J S; Keller, L

    2005-03-01

    WOLBACHIA are maternally inherited bacteria, which are very common in arthropods and nematodes. Wolbachia infection may affect host reproduction through feminisation, parthenogenesis, male-killing, cytoplasmic incompatibility and increased fecundity. Previous studies showing discrepancies between the phylogenies of Wolbachia and its arthropod hosts indicate that infection is frequently lost, but the causes of symbiont extinction have so far remained elusive. Here, we report data showing that colonisation of new habitats is a possible mechanism leading to the loss of infection. The presence and prevalence of Wolbachia were studied in three native and eight introduced populations of the Argentine ant Linepithema humile. The screening shows that the symbiont is common in the three native L. humile populations analysed. In contrast, Wolbachia was detected in only one of the introduced populations. The loss of infection associated with colonisation of new habitats may result from drift (founder effect) or altered selection pressures in the new habitat. Furthermore, a molecular phylogeny based on sequences of the Wolbachia wsp gene indicates that L. humile has been infected by a single strain. Horizontal transmission of the symbiont may be important in ants as suggested by the sequence similarity of strains in the three genera Linepithema, Acromyrmex, and Solenopsis native from South and Central America.

  13. Physiological, vascular and nanomechanical assessment of hybrid poplar leaf traits in micropropagated plants and plants propagated from root cuttings: A contribution to breeding programs.

    PubMed

    Ďurkovič, Jaroslav; Husárová, Hana; Javoříková, Lucia; Čaňová, Ingrid; Šuleková, Miriama; Kardošová, Monika; Lukáčik, Ivan; Mamoňová, Miroslava; Lagaňa, Rastislav

    2017-09-01

    Micropropagated plants experience significant stress from rapid water loss when they are transferred from an in vitro culture to either greenhouse or field conditions. This is caused both by inefficient stomatal control of transpiration and the change to a higher light intensity and lower humidity. Understanding the physiological, vascular and biomechanical processes that allow micropropagated plants to modify their phenotype in response to environmental conditions can help to improve both field performance and plant survival. To identify changes between the hybrid poplar [Populus tremula × (Populus × canescens)] plants propagated from in vitro tissue culture and those from root cuttings, we assessed leaf performance for any differences in leaf growth, photosynthetic and vascular traits, and also nanomechanical properties of the tracheary element cell walls. The micropropagated plants showed significantly higher values for leaf area, leaf length, leaf width and leaf dry mass. The greater leaf area and leaf size dimensions resulted from the higher transpiration rate recorded for this stock type. Also, the micropropagated plants reached higher values for chlorophyll a fluorescence parameters and for the nanomechanical dissipation energy of tracheary element cell walls which may indicate a higher damping capacity within the primary xylem tissue under abiotic stress conditions. The performance of the plants propagated from root cuttings was superior for instantaneous water-use efficiency which signifies a higher acclimation capacity to stressful conditions during a severe drought particularly for this stock type. Similarities were found among the majority of the examined leaf traits for both vegetative plant origins including leaf mass per area, stomatal conductance, net photosynthetic rate, hydraulic axial conductivity, indicators of leaf midrib vascular architecture, as well as for the majority of cell wall nanomechanical traits. This research revealed that

  14. Specialization and group size: brain and behavioural correlates of colony size in ants lacking morphological castes.

    PubMed

    Amador-Vargas, Sabrina; Gronenberg, Wulfila; Wcislo, William T; Mueller, Ulrich

    2015-02-22

    Group size in both multicellular organisms and animal societies can correlate with the degree of division of labour. For ants, the task specialization hypothesis (TSH) proposes that increased behavioural specialization enabled by larger group size corresponds to anatomical specialization of worker brains. Alternatively, the social brain hypothesis proposes that increased levels of social stimuli in larger colonies lead to enlarged brain regions in all workers, regardless of their task specialization. We tested these hypotheses in acacia ants (Pseudomyrmex spinicola), which exhibit behavioural but not morphological task specialization. In wild colonies, we marked, followed and tested ant workers involved in foraging tasks on the leaves (leaf-ants) and in defensive tasks on the host tree trunk (trunk-ants). Task specialization increased with colony size, especially in defensive tasks. The relationship between colony size and brain region volume was task-dependent, supporting the TSH. Specifically, as colony size increased, the relative size of regions within the mushroom bodies of the brain decreased in trunk-ants but increased in leaf-ants; those regions play important roles in learning and memory. Our findings suggest that workers specialized in defence may have reduced learning abilities relative to leaf-ants; these inferences remain to be tested. In societies with monomorphic workers, brain polymorphism enhanced by group size could be a mechanism by which division of labour is achieved. © 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

  15. Low Herbivory among Targeted Reforestation Sites in the Andean Highlands of Southern Ecuador

    PubMed Central

    Adams, Marc-Oliver; Fiedler, Konrad

    2016-01-01

    Insect herbivory constitutes an important constraint in the viability and management of targeted reforestation sites. Focusing on young experimental stands at about 2000 m elevation in southern Ecuador, we examined foliar damage over one season as a function of tree species and habitat. Native tree species (Successional hardwood: Cedrela montana and Tabebuia chrysantha; fast-growing pioneer: Heliocarpus americanus) have been planted among prevailing local landcover types (abandoned pasture, secondary shrub vegetation, and a Pinus patula plantation) in 2003/4. Plantation trees were compared to conspecifics in the spontaneous undergrowth of adjacent undisturbed rainforest matched for height and foliar volume. Specifically, we tested the hypotheses that H. americanus as a pioneer species suffers more herbivory compared to the two successional tree species, and that damage is inversely related to habitat complexity. Overall leaf damage caused by folivorous insects (excluding leafcutter ants) was low. Average leaf loss was highest among T. chrysantha (7.50% ± 0.19 SE of leaf area), followed by H. americanus (4.67% ± 0.18 SE) and C. montana (3.18% ± 0.15 SE). Contrary to expectations, leaf area loss was highest among trees in closed-canopy natural rainforest, followed by pine plantation, pasture, and secondary shrub sites. Harvesting activity of leafcutter ants (Acromyrmex sp.) was strongly biased towards T. chrysantha growing in open habitat (mean pasture: 2.5%; shrub: 10.5%) where it could result in considerable damage (> 90.0%). Insect folivory is unlikely to pose a barrier for reforestation in the tropical Andean mountain forest zone at present, but leafcutter ants may become problematic if local temperatures increase in the wake of global warming. PMID:26963395

  16. Low Herbivory among Targeted Reforestation Sites in the Andean Highlands of Southern Ecuador.

    PubMed

    Adams, Marc-Oliver; Fiedler, Konrad

    2016-01-01

    Insect herbivory constitutes an important constraint in the viability and management of targeted reforestation sites. Focusing on young experimental stands at about 2000 m elevation in southern Ecuador, we examined foliar damage over one season as a function of tree species and habitat. Native tree species (Successional hardwood: Cedrela montana and Tabebuia chrysantha; fast-growing pioneer: Heliocarpus americanus) have been planted among prevailing local landcover types (abandoned pasture, secondary shrub vegetation, and a Pinus patula plantation) in 2003/4. Plantation trees were compared to conspecifics in the spontaneous undergrowth of adjacent undisturbed rainforest matched for height and foliar volume. Specifically, we tested the hypotheses that H. americanus as a pioneer species suffers more herbivory compared to the two successional tree species, and that damage is inversely related to habitat complexity. Overall leaf damage caused by folivorous insects (excluding leafcutter ants) was low. Average leaf loss was highest among T. chrysantha (7.50% ± 0.19 SE of leaf area), followed by H. americanus (4.67% ± 0.18 SE) and C. montana (3.18% ± 0.15 SE). Contrary to expectations, leaf area loss was highest among trees in closed-canopy natural rainforest, followed by pine plantation, pasture, and secondary shrub sites. Harvesting activity of leafcutter ants (Acromyrmex sp.) was strongly biased towards T. chrysantha growing in open habitat (mean pasture: 2.5%; shrub: 10.5%) where it could result in considerable damage (> 90.0%). Insect folivory is unlikely to pose a barrier for reforestation in the tropical Andean mountain forest zone at present, but leafcutter ants may become problematic if local temperatures increase in the wake of global warming.

  17. The ecological role of ants in two Mexican agroecosystems.

    PubMed

    Risch, Stephen J; Carroll, C Ronald

    1982-10-01

    The development of the ant communities and their foraging dynamics were studied in two annual agroecosystems of the Mexican tropical lowlands: a "forest milpa" of corn, beans, and squash made by cutting and buring 40-year-old forest, and a "field milpa" of corn, beans, and squash made by plowing 1-year-old second growth. The ant community was sampled using tuna fish baits 26, 52, 110 and 353 days after planting. Although immediately after planting the same number of ant species occurred in each milpa type, thereafter the ant faunas diverged. The field milpa became completely dominated by the native fire ant, Solenopsis geminata, while the number of ant species in the forest milpa gradually increased over time, reaching eight species 110 days after planting and 14 species by 353 days. Initially S. geminata dominated the ant fauna in the forest milpa (occurring on 90% of the baits), but by 353 days planting it was found on only 26% of the occupied baits. Ant foraging efficiency, as measured by proportion of tuna baits occupied and the removal rates of dead Drosophila fly baits, was much higher (by a factor of 2 to 3) in the field than the forest milpa. This was caused by the extremely high density of S. geminata colonies in the field milpa. The simple Solenopsis-dominated community of the field milpa may be much more effective in biological control than the more diverse community of the forest milpa. Although S. geminata has potential negative impacts in annual agroecosystems (it stings, eats corn seeds, and guards homopterams), its overall impact appears to be beneficial. As forested areas of the lowland wet tropics are increasingly cut and converted to annual agriculture, the primary ant inhabitant of these highly disturbed environments, S. geminata, will necessarily play a much more significant ecological role in agroecosystems.

  18. Tracing the Rise of Ants - Out of the Ground

    PubMed Central

    Lucky, Andrea; Trautwein, Michelle D.; Guénard, Benoit S.; Weiser, Michael D.; Dunn, Robert R.

    2013-01-01

    The evolution of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) is increasingly well-understood due to recent phylogenetic analyses, along with estimates of divergence times and diversification rates. Yet, leading hypotheses regarding the ancestral habitat of ants conflict with new findings that early ant lineages are cryptic and subterranean. Where the ants evolved, in respect to habitat, and how habitat shifts took place over time have not been formally tested. Here, we reconstruct the habitat transitions of crown-group ants through time, focusing on where they nest and forage (in the canopy, litter, or soil). Based on ancestral character reconstructions, we show that in contrast to the current consensus based on verbal arguments that ants evolved in tropical leaf litter, the soil is supported as the ancestral stratum of all ants. We also find subsequent movements up into the litter and, in some cases, into the canopy. Given the global importance of ants, because of their diversity, ecological influence and status as the most successful eusocial lineage on Earth, understanding the early evolution of this lineage provides insight into the factors that made this group so successful today. PMID:24386323

  19. Trails of the leafcutters

    Treesearch

    John C. Moser

    1967-01-01

    The trails of leaf-cutting ants are among the most conspicuous and long-lived of all ant roadways. In tropical America, where such ants are abundant, paths leading from underground nests are often a foot wide and extended for 100 yards or more to trees or other plants whose leaves the ants gather. The ants commonly carry their forage above their heads, and when the...

  20. Antagonism of Trichoderma isolates against Leucoagaricus gongylophorus (Singer) Möller.

    PubMed

    do Nascimento, Mariela Otoni; de Almeida Sarmento, Renato; Dos Santos, Gil Rodrigues; de Oliveira, Cléia Almeida; de Souza, Danival José

    2017-08-01

    Filamentous fungi from the genus Trichoderma are commonly found in soil. They are considered facultative mycoparasites, and are antagonists of other fungi such as the cultivar of leaf-cutting ants (Leucoagaricus gongylophorus). The aim of the present study was to bioprospect Trichoderma spp. from different soils collected from Gurupi, Tocantins, Brazil, for antagonistic effects against the mutualistic fungus of leaf-cutting ants. To isolate filamentous fungi, samples were collected from six locations. Preliminarily, isolates were identified by morphological analysis as belonging to Trichoderma. Trichoderma spp. had their internal transcribed spacer region (ITS) of ribosomal RNA genes (rRNA) sequenced to confirm species-level taxonomy. L. gongylophorus was isolated from a laboratory ant colony. Antagonistic properties of seven isolates of Trichoderma against L. gongylophorus were measured using paired disks in Petri dishes with potato dextrose agar medium (PDA). All Trichoderma isolates inhibited the growth of L. gongylophorus in Petri dishes. Isolate 2 of Trichoderma spirale group exhibited slow mycelial growth in the Petri dish, and a high rate of inhibition against L. gongylophorus. This isolate is a promising fungus for field tests of biological control methods for leaf-cutting ants. © 2017 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.

  1. Fungal communities in gardens of the leafcutter ant Atta cephalotes in forest and cabruca agrosystems of southern Bahia State (Brazil).

    PubMed

    Reis, Bárbara Monique Dos Santos; Silva, Aline; Alvarez, Martín Roberto; Oliveira, Tássio Brito de; Rodrigues, Andre

    2015-12-01

    Leaf-cutting ants interact with several fungi in addition to the fungal symbiont they cultivate for food. Here, we assessed alien fungal communities in colonies of Atta cephalotes. Fungus garden fragments were sampled from colonies in the Atlantic Rainforest and in a cabruca agrosystem in the state of Bahia (Brazil) in two distinct periods to evaluate whether differences in nest habitat influence the diversity of fungi in the ant colonies. We recovered a total of 403 alien fungi isolates from 628 garden fragments. The prevalent taxa found in these samples were Escovopsis sp. (26 %), Escovopsioides nivea (24 %), and Trichoderma spirale (10.9 %). Fungal diversity was similar between the colonies sampled in both areas suggesting that ants focus on reducing loads of alien fungi in the fungus gardens instead of avoiding specific fungi. However, fungal taxa composition differed between colonies sampled in the two areas and between the sampling periods. These differences are likely explained by the availability of plant substrates available for foraging over habitats and periods. Ordination analysis further supported that sampling period was the main attribute for community structuring but also revealed that additional factors may explain the structuring of fungal communities in colonies of A. cephalotes. Copyright © 2015 The British Mycological Society. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  2. Leaf volatile compounds and the distribution of ant patrollingin an ant-plant protection mutualism: Preliminary results on Leonardoxa (Fabaceae: Caesalpinioideae) and Petalomyrmex(Formicidae: Formicinae)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Brouat, Carine; McKey, Doyle; Bessière, Jean-Marie; Pascal, Laurence; Hossaert-McKey, Martine

    2000-12-01

    While observations suggest that plant chemicals could be important in maintaining the specificity and permitting the functioning of ant-plant symbioses, they have been little studied. We report here the strongest evidence yet for chemical signalling between ants and plants in a specific ant-plant protection symbiosis. In the mutualism between Leonardoxa africana subsp. africana and Petalomyrmex phylax, ants continuously patrol young leaves, which are vulnerable to attacks by phytophagous insects. We provide experimental evidence for chemical mediation of ant attraction to young leaves in this system. By a comparative analysis of the related non-myrmecophytic tree L. africana subsp. gracilicaulis, we identify likely candidates for attractant molecules, and suggest they may function not only as signals but also as resources. We also propose hypotheses on the evolutionary origin of these plant volatiles, and of the responses to them by mutualistic ants.

  3. Ant diversity as a direct and indirect driver of pselaphine rove beetle (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) functional diversity in tropical rainforests, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

    PubMed

    Psomas, Elizabeth; Holdsworth, Sholto; Eggleton, Paul

    2018-04-20

    Pselaphinae is a species-rich beetle subfamily found globally, with many exhibiting myrmecophily-a symbiotic association with ants. Pselaphine-ant associations vary from facultative to obligate, but direct behavioral observations still remain scarce. Pselaphines are speciose and ecologically abundant within tropical leaf litter invertebrate communities where ants dominate, implying a potentially important ecological role that may be affected by habitat disturbances that impact ants. In this study, we measured and analyzed putative functional traits of leaf litter pselaphines associated with myrmecophily through morphometric analysis. We calculated "myrmecophile functional diversity" of pselaphines at different sites and examined this measure's relationship with ant abundance, in both old growth and logged rainforest sites in Sabah, Borneo. We show that myrmecophile functional diversity of pselaphine beetles increases as ant abundance increases. Old growth rainforest sites support a high abundance of ants, which is associated with a high abundance of probable myrmecophilous pselaphines. These results suggest a potential link between adult morphological characters and the functional role these beetles play in rainforest litter as ecological interaction partners with ants. © 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

  4. Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Foraging Networks in the Grass-Cutting Ant Atta bisphaerica Forel, 1908 (Formicidae, Attini)

    PubMed Central

    Lopes, Juliane F. S.; Brugger, Mariana S.; Menezes, Regys B.; Camargo, Roberto S.; Forti, Luiz Carlos; Fourcassié, Vincent

    2016-01-01

    Foraging networks are a key element for ant colonies because they facilitate the flow of resources from the environment to the nest and they allow the sharing of information among individuals. Here we report the results of an 8-month survey, extending from November 2009 to June 2010, of the foraging networks of four mature colonies of Atta bisphaerica, a species of grass-cutting ant which is considered as a pest in Brazil. We found that the distribution of foraging effort was strongly influenced by the landscape features around the nests, in particular by the permanently wet parts of the pasture in which the nests were located. The foraging networks consisted of underground tunnels which opened on average at 21.5m from the nests and of above-ground physical trails that reached on average 4.70m in length. The use of the foraging networks was highly dynamic, with few sections of the networks used for long periods of time. Three different phases, which could be linked to the seasonal change in the local rainfall regime, could be identified in the construction and use of the foraging networks. The first phase corresponded to the beginning of the rainy season and was characterized by a low foraging activity, as well as a low excavation and physical trail construction effort. The second phase, which began in February and extended up to the end of the humid season at the end of March, was characterized by an intense excavation and trail construction effort, resulting in an expansion of the foraging networks. Finally, in the third phase, which corresponded to the beginning of the dry season, the excavation and trail construction effort leveled off or decreased while foraging activity kept increasing. Our hypothesis is that ants could benefit from the underground tunnels and physical trails built during the humid season to maintain their foraging activity at a high level. PMID:26752413

  5. Integrated In Situ Sensing and Modeling to Assess Carbon Dioxide Emissions from Tropical Wet Forest Soils: The Role of Leaf Cutter Ant Atta Cepholotes

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Harmon, T. C.; Fernandez Bou, A. S.; Dierick, D.; Oberbauer, S. F.; Schwendenmann, L.; Swanson, A. C.; Zelikova, T. J.

    2016-12-01

    This project focuses on the role of leaf cutter ants (LCA) Atta cepholotes in carbon cycling in neotropical wet forests. LCA are abundant in these forests and workers cut and carry vegetation fragments to their nests, where symbiotic fungi break down the plant material and produce the fungal hyphae on which the ants feed. LCA are the dominant herbivores in tropical forest ecosystems, removing 10-50% of vegetation annually. Their nests can achieve large sizes, extending several meters belowground and covering 50 square meters or more of the forest floor. We monitored soil moisture, temperature, and soil CO2 concentrations continuously in nest and control sites at La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica. Intermittently, we also assessed soil respiration and LCA nest vent fluxes. Observed soil CO2 concentrations varied markedly with soil moisture conditions, ranging from a few thousand to over 60,000 ppm(v). Accordingly, soil CO2 surface efflux varied temporally by an order of magnitude or more (typical range 0.5 to 5 mmol CO2 m-2 s-1) for the same location as a consequence of soil moisture fluctuations. LCA nest vents equivalent CO2 efflux rates (accounting for vent diameter) can be substantially greater than soil surface values, with observed values ranging from about 1 to 50 mmol m-2 s-1 (it is worth noting that correcting for vent diameters yields equivalent CO2 efflux rates greater than 1000 mmol m-2 s-1). Similar to the soil surface efflux, vent efflux varied temporally by factors of 3 or more, suggesting a potential link between the vent productivity and nest activity, moisture content of surrounding soil, and atmospheric conditions (e.g., air temperature, wind). Using a soil model (Hydrus-1D) to account for unsaturated flow, heat transfer, CO2 production and diffusive transport, we captured moisture and temperature dynamics and the order of magnitude of observed CO2 concentration. Modelled surface fluxes also agreed well with observed soil surface CO2 efflux

  6. Xylem Cavitation in the Leaf of Prunus laurocerasus and Its Impact on Leaf Hydraulics1

    PubMed Central

    Nardini, Andrea; Tyree, Melvin T.; Salleo, Sebastiano

    2001-01-01

    This paper reports how water stress correlates with changes in hydraulic conductivity of stems, leaf midrib, and whole leaves of Prunus laurocerasus. Water stress caused cavitation-induced dysfunction in vessels of P. laurocerasus. Cavitation was detected acoustically by counts of ultrasonic acoustic emissions and by the loss of hydraulic conductivity measured by a vacuum chamber method. Stems and midribs were approximately equally vulnerable to cavitations. Although midribs suffered a 70% loss of hydraulic conductance at leaf water potentials of −1.5 MPa, there was less than a 10% loss of hydraulic conductance in whole leaves. Cutting and sealing the midrib 20 mm from the leaf base caused only a 30% loss of conduction of the whole leaf. A high-pressure flow meter was used to measure conductance of whole leaves and as the leaf was progressively cut back from tip to base. These data were fitted to a model of hydraulic conductance of leaves that explained the above results, i.e. redundancy in hydraulic pathways whereby water can flow around embolized regions in the leaf, makes whole leaves relatively insensitive to significant changes in conductance of the midrib. The onset of cavitation events in P. laurocerasus leaves correlated with the onset of stomatal closure as found recently in studies of other species in our laboratory. PMID:11299351

  7. Conflict over reproduction in an ant-plant symbiosis: why Allomerus octoarticulatus ants sterilize Cordia nodosa trees.

    PubMed

    Frederickson, Megan E

    2009-05-01

    The evolutionary stability of mutualism is thought to depend on how well the fitness interests of partners are aligned. Because most ant-myrmecophyte mutualisms are persistent and horizontally transmitted, partners share an interest in growth but not in reproduction. Resources invested in reproduction are unavailable for growth, giving rise to a conflict of interest between partners. I investigated whether this explains why Allomerus octoarticulatus ants sterilize Cordia nodosa trees. Allomerus octoarticulatus nests in the hollow stem domatia of C. nodosa. Workers protect C. nodosa leaves against herbivores but destroy inflorescences. Using C. nodosa trees with Azteca ants, which do not sterilize their hosts, I cut inflorescences off trees to simulate sterilization by A. octoarticulatus. Sterilized C. nodosa grew faster than control trees, providing evidence for a trade-off between growth and reproduction. Allomerus octoarticulatus manipulates this trade-off to its advantage; sterilized trees produce more domatia and can house larger, more fecund colonies.

  8. Evolution and ecology of directed aerial descent in arboreal ants.

    PubMed

    Yanoviak, Stephen P; Munk, Yonatan; Dudley, Robert

    2011-12-01

    Directed aerial descent (DAD) is used by a variety of arboreal animals to escape predators, to remain in the canopy, and to access resources. Here, we build upon the discovery of DAD in ants of tropical canopies by summarizing its known phylogenetic distribution among ant genera, and within both the subfamily Pseudomyrmecinae and the genus Cephalotes. DAD has multiple evolutionary origins in ants, occurring independently in numerous genera in the subfamilies Myrmicinae, Formicinae, and Pseudomyrmecinae. Ablation experiments and video recordings of ants in a vertical wind tunnel showed that DAD in Cephalotes atratus is achieved via postural changes, specifically orientation of the legs and gaster. The occurrence of DAD in Formicinae indicates that the presence of a postpetiole is not essential for the behavior. Evidence to date indicates that gliding behavior is accomplished by visual targeting mediated by the compound eyes, and is restricted to diurnally active ants that nest in trees. Occlusion of ocelli in Pseudomyrmex gracilis workers had no effect on their success or performance in gliding. Experimental assessment of the fate of ants that fall to the understory showed that ants landing in water are 15 times more likely to suffer lethal attacks than are ants landing in leaf litter. Variation in both the aerodynamic mechanisms and selective advantages of DAD merits further study given the broad taxonomic diversity of arboreal ants that engage in this intriguing form of flight.

  9. Relief of mitral leaflet tethering following chronic myocardial infarction by chordal cutting diminishes left ventricular remodeling.

    PubMed

    Messas, Emmanuel; Bel, Alain; Szymanski, Catherine; Cohen, Iris; Touchot, Bernard; Handschumacher, Mark D; Desnos, Michel; Carpentier, Alain; Menasché, Philippe; Hagège, Albert A; Levine, Robert A

    2010-11-01

    one of the key targets in treating mitral regurgitation (MR) is reducing the otherwise progressive left ventricular (LV) remodeling that exacerbates MR and conveys adverse prognosis. We have previously demonstrated that severing 2 second-order chordae to the anterior mitral leaflet relieves tethering and ischemic MR acutely. The purpose of this study was to test whether this technique reduces the progression of LV remodeling in the chronic ischemic MR setting. a posterolateral MI was created in 18 sheep by obtuse marginal branch ligation. After chronic remodeling and MR development at 3 months, 6 sheep were randomized to sham surgery (control group) and 12 to second-order chordal cutting (6 each to anterior leaflet [AntL] and bileaflet [BiL] chordal cutting, techniques that are in clinical application). At baseline, chronic infarction (3 months), and follow-up at a mean of 6.6 months post-myocardial infarction (MI) (euthanasia), we measured LV end-diastolic (EDV) and end-systolic volume (ESV), ejection fraction, wall motion score index, and posterior leaflet (PL) restriction angle relative to the annulus by 2D and 3D echocardiography. All measurements were comparable among groups at baseline and chronic MI. At euthanasia, AntL and BiL chordal cutting limited the progressive remodeling seen in controls. LVESV increased relative to chronic MI by 109±8.7% in controls versus 30.5±6.1% with chordal cutting (P<0.01) (LVESV in controls, 82.5±2.6 mL; in AntL, 60.6±5.1 mL; in BiL, 61.8±4.1 mL). LVEDV increased by 63±2.0% in controls versus 26±5.5% and 22±3.4% with chordal cutting (P<0.01). LV ejection fraction and wall motion score index were not significantly different at follow-up among the chordal cutting and control groups. MR progressively increased to moderate in controls but decreased to trace-mild with AntL and BiL chordal cutting (MR vena contracta in controls, 5.9±1.1 mm; in AntL, 2.6±0.1 mm; in BiL, 1.7±0.1 mm; P<0.01). BiL chordal cutting provided

  10. Influence of cutting time on brush response: implications for herbivory in linear (transportation) corridors.

    PubMed

    Rea, Roy V; Child, Kenneth N; Spata, David P; MacDonald, Douglas

    2007-08-01

    An experiment was conducted to determine the influence the time of brush-cutting can have on plant regrowth and attractiveness to herbivores that browse in linear corridors. The influence of cutting time on leaf flush and senescence, shoot morphometry, and biomass was measured for 3 consecutive years after initial brush-cutting. Results indicate that morphological and phenological attributes of three woody deciduous plants were influenced by the timing of brush-cutting for up to 3 years after initial cutting. Brush-cutting generally stimulated plants to produce larger than normal shoots and delay leaf senescence. The degree to which plants were affected, however, varied with the timing of initial cutting and the species in question. Generally, plants cut later in the year resprouted more vigorously and were taller in the third year after cutting but produced less overall biomass than when cut earlier. In the years following brush-cutting, plants cut earlier flushed leaves earlier in the spring but delayed leaf senescence in the fall when compared to uncut controls. Results of these trials suggest that brush-cutting time influences plant response and several plant attributes known to influence plant attractiveness to moose and other herbivores. We therefore recommend that roadside and railside vegetation management plans consider the influence of cutting time on plant regrowth. Such considerations can ensure that brush is cut to reduce the attractiveness of plant regrowth in these linear corridors, reduce the utilization of such brush by herbivores, and, as such, mitigate collision risk between motorists and herbivores such as moose.

  11. Why are there few seedlings beneath the myrmecophyte Triplaris americana?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Larrea-Alcázar, Daniel M.; Simonetti, Javier A.

    2007-07-01

    We compared the relative importance of chemical alellopathy, pruning behaviour of resident ants and other non-related agents to ant-plant mutualism for seedling establishment beneath Triplaris americana L. (Polygonaceae), a myrmecophyte plant. We also included a preliminary analysis of effects of fragmentation on these ecological processes. Seeds and seedlings of Theobroma cacao L. (Sterculiaceae) were used as the target species in all experiments. Leaf-tissue extracts of the myrmecophyte plant did not inhibit germination of cacao seeds. Resident Pseudomyrmex triplarinus Weddell (Pseudomyrmecinae) ants did not remove seeds under the canopy of their host plants. The main seed consumer was the leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens L. (Myrmicinae). Leaves of cacao seedlings were partially or totally pruned by Pseudomyrmex ants mainly in forest fragments studied. We offer evidence pointing to the possibility that the absence of seedlings beneath Triplaris may result from effects of both ant species. We discuss the benefits of pruning behaviour for the resident ant colony and the effects of ant-ant interactions on seedling establishment beneath this ant-plant system.

  12. Predation and aggressiveness in host plant protection: a generalization using ants from the genus Azteca

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dejean, Alain; Grangier, Julien; Leroy, Céline; Orivel, Jerôme

    2009-01-01

    In studying the ant genus Azteca, a Neotropical group of arboreal species, we aimed to determine the extent to which the ants use predation and/or aggressiveness to protect their host plants from defoliating insects. We compared a territorially dominant, carton-nester, Azteca chartifex, and three plant-ant species. Azteca alfari and Azteca ovaticeps are associated with the myrmecophyte Cecropia (Cecropiaceae) and their colonies shelter in its hollow branches; whereas Azteca bequaerti is associated with Tococa guianensis (Melastomataceae) and its colonies shelter in leaf pouches situated at the base of the laminas. Whereas A. bequaerti workers react to the vibrations transmitted by the lamina when an alien insect lands on a leaf making it unnecessary for them to patrol their plant, the workers of the three other species rather discover prey by contact. The workers of all four species use a predatory behaviour involving spread-eagling alien insects after recruiting nestmates at short range, and, in some cases, at long range. Because A. alfari and A. ovaticeps discard part of the insects they kill, we deduced that the workers’ predatory behaviour and territorial aggressiveness combine in the biotic defence of their host tree.

  13. Predation and aggressiveness in host plant protection: a generalization using ants from the genus Azteca.

    PubMed

    Dejean, Alain; Grangier, Julien; Leroy, Céline; Orivel, Jerôme

    2009-01-01

    In studying the ant genus Azteca, a Neotropical group of arboreal species, we aimed to determine the extent to which the ants use predation and/or aggressiveness to protect their host plants from defoliating insects. We compared a territorially dominant, carton-nester, Azteca chartifex, and three plant-ant species. Azteca alfari and Azteca ovaticeps are associated with the myrmecophyte Cecropia (Cecropiaceae) and their colonies shelter in its hollow branches; whereas Azteca bequaerti is associated with Tococa guianensis (Melastomataceae) and its colonies shelter in leaf pouches situated at the base of the laminas. Whereas A. bequaerti workers react to the vibrations transmitted by the lamina when an alien insect lands on a leaf making it unnecessary for them to patrol their plant, the workers of the three other species rather discover prey by contact. The workers of all four species use a predatory behaviour involving spread-eagling alien insects after recruiting nestmates at short range, and, in some cases, at long range. Because A. alfari and A. ovaticeps discard part of the insects they kill, we deduced that the workers' predatory behaviour and territorial aggressiveness combine in the biotic defence of their host tree.

  14. The influence of light, substrate and seed origin on the germination and establishment of an ant-garden bromeliad.

    PubMed

    Leroy, C; Petitclerc, F; Orivel, J; Corbara, B; Carrias, J-F; Dejean, A; Céréghino, R

    2017-01-01

    Plant germination and development depend upon a seed's successful dispersal into a suitable habitat and its ability to grow and survive within the surrounding biotic and abiotic environment. The seeds of Aechmea mertensii, a tank-bromeliad species, are dispersed by either Camponotus femoratus or Neoponera goeldii, two ant species that initiate ant gardens (AGs). These two mutualistic ant species influence the vegetative and reproductive traits of the bromeliad through their divergent ecological preferences (i.e. light and substrate). We hypothesised that the seeds dispersed by these two ant species have underlying genetic differences affecting germination, growth and survival of A. mertensii seedlings in different ways. To test this, we used an experimental approach consisting of sowing seeds of A. mertensii: (i) taken from the two AG-ant associations (i.e. seed origin), (ii) in two contrasting light conditions, and (iii) on three different substrates. Light and substrate had significant effects on germination, survival and on eight key leaf traits reflecting plant performance. Seed origin had a significant effect only on germination and on two leaf traits (total dry mass and relative growth rate). Overall, this bromeliad performs better (i.e. high growth and survival rates) when growing both in the shade and in the carton nest developed by C. femoratus ants. These results suggest that the plasticity of the tank bromeliad A. mertensii is mainly due to environment but also to genetic differences related to seed origin, as some traits are heritable. Thus, these two ant species may play contrasting roles in shaping plant evolution and speciation. © 2016 German Botanical Society and The Royal Botanical Society of the Netherlands.

  15. Ant- and Ant-Colony-Inspired ALife Visual Art.

    PubMed

    Greenfield, Gary; Machado, Penousal

    2015-01-01

    Ant- and ant-colony-inspired ALife art is characterized by the artistic exploration of the emerging collective behavior of computational agents, developed using ants as a metaphor. We present a chronology that documents the emergence and history of such visual art, contextualize ant- and ant-colony-inspired art within generative art practices, and consider how it relates to other ALife art. We survey many of the algorithms that artists have used in this genre, address some of their aims, and explore the relationships between ant- and ant-colony-inspired art and research on ant and ant colony behavior.

  16. Do leaf-cutter ants Atta colombica obtain their magnetic sensors from soil?

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    How animals sense, process and use magnetic information has remained largely elusive. In insects, ferromagnetic particles are candidates for a magnetic sensor. Recent studies suggest that ferromagnetic minerals from soil can be incorporated into the antennae of the migratory ant Pachycondola margina...

  17. Frontier mutualism: coevolutionary patterns at the northern range limit of the leaf-cutter ant–fungus symbiosis

    PubMed Central

    Mueller, Ulrich G.; Mikheyev, Alexander S.; Solomon, Scott E.; Cooper, Michael

    2011-01-01

    Tropical leaf-cutter ants cultivate the fungus Attamyces bromatificus in a many-to-one, diffuse coevolutionary relationship where ant and fungal partners re-associate frequently over time. To evaluate whether ant–Attamyces coevolution is more specific (tighter) in peripheral populations, we characterized the host-specificities of Attamyces genotypes at their northern, subtropical range limits (southern USA, Mexico and Cuba). Population-genetic patterns of northern Attamyces reveal features that have so far not been observed in the diffusely coevolving, tropical ant–Attamyces associations. These unique features include (i) cases of one-to-one ant–Attamyces specialization that tighten coevolution at the northern frontier; (ii) distributions of genetically identical Attamyces clones over large areas (up to 81 000 km2, approx. the area of Ireland, Austria or Panama); (iii) admixture rates between Attamyces lineages that appear lower in northern than in tropical populations; and (iv) long-distance gene flow of Attamyces across a dispersal barrier for leaf-cutter ants (ocean between mainland North America and Cuba). The latter suggests that Attamyces fungi may occasionally disperse independently of the ants, contrary to the traditional assumption that Attamyces fungi depend entirely on leaf-cutter queens for dispersal. Peripheral populations in Argentina or at mid-elevation sites in the Andes may reveal additional regional variants in ant–Attamyces coevolution. Studies of such populations are most likely to inform models of coextinctions of obligate mutualistic partners that are doubly stressed by habitat marginality and by environmental change. PMID:21389026

  18. The effect of cutting origin and organic plant growth regulator on the growth of Daun Ungu (Graptophyllum pictum) through stem cutting method

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pratama, S. P.; Yunus, A.; Purwanto, E.; Widyastuti, Y.

    2018-03-01

    Graptophyllum pictum is one of medical plants which has important chemical content to treat diseases. Leaf, bark and flower can be used to facilitate menstruation, treat hemorrhoid, constipation, ulcers, ulcers, swelling, and earache. G. pictum is difficult to propagated by seedling due to the long duration of seed formation, thusvegetative propagation is done by stem cutting. The aims of this study are to obtain optimum combination of cutting origin and organic plant growth regulator in various consentration for the growth of Daun Ungu through stem cutting method. This research was conducted at Research center for Medicinal Plant and Traditional DrugTanjungsari, Tegal Gede, Karanganyar in June to August 2016. Origin of cuttings and organic plant growth regulator were used as treatments factor. A completely randomized design (RAL) is used and data were analyzed by F test (ANOVA) with a confidence level of 95%. Any significant differences among treatment followed with Duncan test at a = 5%. The research indicates that longest root was resulted from the treatment of 0,5 ml/l of organic plant growth regulator. The treatment of 1 ml/l is able to increase the fresh and dry weight of root, treatment of 1,5 ml/l of organic plant growth regulator was able to increase the percentage of growing shoots. Treatment of base part as origin of cuttings increases the length, fresh weight and and dry weight of shoot, increase the number of leaves. Interaction treatment between 1 ml/l consentration of organic plant growth regulator and central part origin of cuttings is capable of increasing the leaf area, whereas treatment without organic plant growth regulator and base part as planting material affects the smallest leaf area.

  19. Interaction complexity matters: disentangling services and disservices of ant communities driving yield in tropical agroecosystems

    PubMed Central

    Wielgoss, Arno; Tscharntke, Teja; Rumede, Alfianus; Fiala, Brigitte; Seidel, Hannes; Shahabuddin, Saleh; Clough, Yann

    2014-01-01

    Owing to complex direct and indirect effects, impacts of higher trophic levels on plants is poorly understood. In tropical agroecosystems, ants interact with crop mutualists and antagonists, but little is known about how this integrates into the final ecosystem service, crop yield. We combined ant exclusion and introduction of invasive and native-dominant species in cacao agroecosystems to test whether (i) ant exclusion reduces yield, (ii) dominant species maximize certain intermediate ecosystem services (e.g. control of specific pests) rather than yield, which depends on several, cascading intermediate services and (iii) even, species-rich ant communities result in highest yields. Ants provided services, including reduced leaf herbivory and fruit pest damage and indirect pollination facilitation, but also disservices, such as increased mealybug density, phytopathogen dissemination and indirect pest damage enhancement. Yields were highest with unmanipulated, species-rich, even communities, whereas ant exclusion decreased yield by 27%. Introduction of an invasive-dominant ant decreased species density and evenness and resulted in 34% lower yields, whereas introduction of a non-invasive-dominant species resulted in similar species density and yields as in the unmanipulated control. Species traits and ant community structure affect services and disservices for agriculture in surprisingly complex ways, with species-rich and even communities promoting highest yield. PMID:24307667

  20. Effects of soil conditions on survival and growth of black willow cuttings.

    PubMed

    Schaff, Steven D; Pezeshki, S Reza; Shields, F Douglas

    2003-06-01

    Current streambank restoration efforts focus on providing bank stability, enhancing water quality, and improving woody habitat using native vegetation rather than traditional engineering techniques. However, in most cases harsh site conditions limit restoration success. A two-year field study was conducted at Twentymile Creek, in northern Mississippi, investigating edaphic factors governing the survival of black willow (Salix nigra) cuttings used for streambank restoration. Low height growth, above-ground biomass production, and average leaf area were observed in willow cuttings grown in plots subjected to moisture deficits. However, sediment texture emerged as the dominant factor determining willow post growth, health, and survival. Shoot biomass, leaf biomass, and total above-ground biomass were 15-, 10-, and 14-fold greater for large willow cuttings (posts) grown in plots with sandy sediments relative to those grown in plots with similar moisture and soil redox potential but with silt and clay sediments. Average leaf size, average leaf mass and specific leaf area were all lower in fine textured plots. Under moisture conditions present at our sites, coarse-grained sediment (sand) was more conducive to willow growth, biomass production, and survival than were fine-grained sediments (silt/clay). Our results strongly suggest that soil texture and moisture conditions can determine restoration success. Therefore, it is critical that site conditions are factored into the selection of project locations prior to the initiation of willow planting restoration projects.

  1. A phylogenetic perspective on the association between ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and black yeasts (Ascomycota: Chaetothyriales).

    PubMed

    Vasse, Marie; Voglmayr, Hermann; Mayer, Veronika; Gueidan, Cécile; Nepel, Maximilian; Moreno, Leandro; de Hoog, Sybren; Selosse, Marc-André; McKey, Doyle; Blatrix, Rumsaïs

    2017-03-15

    The frequency and the geographical extent of symbiotic associations between ants and fungi of the order Chaetothyriales have been highlighted only recently. Using a phylogenetic approach based on seven molecular markers, we showed that ant-associated Chaetothyriales are scattered through the phylogeny of this order. There was no clustering according to geographical origin or to the taxonomy of the ant host. However, strains tended to be clustered according to the type of association with ants: strains from ant-made carton and strains from plant cavities occupied by ants ('domatia') rarely clustered together. Defining molecular operational taxonomic units (MOTUs) with an internal transcribed spacer sequence similarity cut-off of 99% revealed that a single MOTU could be composed of strains collected from various ant species and from several continents. Some ant-associated MOTUs also contained strains isolated from habitats other than ant-associated structures. Altogether, our results suggest that the degree of specialization of the interactions between ants and their fungal partners is highly variable. A better knowledge of the ecology of these interactions and a more comprehensive sampling of the fungal order are needed to elucidate the evolutionary history of mutualistic symbioses between ants and Chaetothyriales. © 2017 The Author(s).

  2. Magnetic anisotropy and organization of nanoparticles in heads and antennae of neotropical leaf-cutter ants, Atta colombica

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    Oriented magnetic nanoparticles have been suggested as a good candidate for a magnetic sensor in ants. Behavioral evidence for a magnetic compass in Neotropical leafcutter ants, Atta colombica (Formicidae: Attini), motivated a study of the arrangement of magnetic particles in the ants’ four major bo...

  3. Identifying Shifts in Leaf-Litter Ant Assemblages (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) across Ecosystem Boundaries Using Multiple Sampling Methods

    PubMed Central

    Wiezik, Michal; Svitok, Marek; Wieziková, Adela; Dovčiak, Martin

    2015-01-01

    Global or regional environmental changes in climate or land use have been increasingly implied in shifts in boundaries (ecotones) between adjacent ecosystems such as beech or oak-dominated forests and forest-steppe ecotones that frequently co-occur near the southern range limits of deciduous forest biome in Europe. Yet, our ability to detect changes in biological communities across these ecosystems, or to understand their environmental drivers, can be hampered when different sampling methods are required to characterize biological communities of the adjacent but ecologically different ecosystems. Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) have been shown to be particularly sensitive to changes in temperature and vegetation and they require different sampling methods in closed vs. open habitats. We compared ant assemblages of closed-forests (beech- or oak-dominated) and open forest-steppe habitats in southwestern Carpathians using methods for closed-forest (litter sifting) and open habitats (pitfall trapping), and developed an integrated sampling approach to characterize changes in ant assemblages across these adjacent ecosystems. Using both methods, we collected 5,328 individual ant workers from 28 species. Neither method represented ant communities completely, but pitfall trapping accounted for more species (24) than litter sifting (16). Although pitfall trapping characterized differences in species richness and composition among the ecosystems better, with beech forest being most species poor and ecotone most species rich, litter sifting was more successful in identifying characteristic litter-dwelling species in oak-dominated forest. The integrated sampling approach using both methods yielded more accurate characterization of species richness and composition, and particularly so in species-rich forest-steppe habitat where the combined sample identified significantly higher number of species compared to either of the two methods on their own. Thus, an integrated sampling

  4. Identifying Shifts in Leaf-Litter Ant Assemblages (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) across Ecosystem Boundaries Using Multiple Sampling Methods.

    PubMed

    Wiezik, Michal; Svitok, Marek; Wieziková, Adela; Dovčiak, Martin

    2015-01-01

    Global or regional environmental changes in climate or land use have been increasingly implied in shifts in boundaries (ecotones) between adjacent ecosystems such as beech or oak-dominated forests and forest-steppe ecotones that frequently co-occur near the southern range limits of deciduous forest biome in Europe. Yet, our ability to detect changes in biological communities across these ecosystems, or to understand their environmental drivers, can be hampered when different sampling methods are required to characterize biological communities of the adjacent but ecologically different ecosystems. Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) have been shown to be particularly sensitive to changes in temperature and vegetation and they require different sampling methods in closed vs. open habitats. We compared ant assemblages of closed-forests (beech- or oak-dominated) and open forest-steppe habitats in southwestern Carpathians using methods for closed-forest (litter sifting) and open habitats (pitfall trapping), and developed an integrated sampling approach to characterize changes in ant assemblages across these adjacent ecosystems. Using both methods, we collected 5,328 individual ant workers from 28 species. Neither method represented ant communities completely, but pitfall trapping accounted for more species (24) than litter sifting (16). Although pitfall trapping characterized differences in species richness and composition among the ecosystems better, with beech forest being most species poor and ecotone most species rich, litter sifting was more successful in identifying characteristic litter-dwelling species in oak-dominated forest. The integrated sampling approach using both methods yielded more accurate characterization of species richness and composition, and particularly so in species-rich forest-steppe habitat where the combined sample identified significantly higher number of species compared to either of the two methods on their own. Thus, an integrated sampling

  5. Water Potential in Excised Leaf Tissue

    PubMed Central

    Nelsen, Charles E.; Safir, Gene R.; Hanson, Andrew D.

    1978-01-01

    Leaf water potential (Ψleaf) determinations were made on excised leaf samples using a commercial dew point hygrometer (Wescor Inc., Logan, Utah) and a thermocouple psychrometer operated in the isopiestic mode. With soybean leaves (Glycine max L.), there was good agreement between instruments; equilibration times were 2 to 3 hours. With cereals (Triticum aestivum L. and Hordeum vulgare L.), agreement between instruments was poor for moderately wilted leaves when 7-mm-diameter punches were used in the hygrometer and 20-mm slices were used in the psychrometer, because the Ψleaf values from the dew point hygrometer were too high. Agreement was improved by replacing the 7-mm punch samples in the hygrometer by 13-mm slices, which had a lower cut edge to volume ratio. Equilibration times for cereals were normally 6 to 8 hours. Spuriously high Ψleaf values obtained with 7-mm leaf punches may be associated with the ion release and reabsorption that occur upon tissue excision; such errors evidently depend both on the species and on tissue water status. PMID:16660227

  6. Macroevolutionary assembly of ant/plant symbioses: Pseudomyrmex ants and their ant-housing plants in the Neotropics

    PubMed Central

    Chomicki, Guillaume; Ward, Philip S.; Renner, Susanne S.

    2015-01-01

    Symbioses include some of the clearest cases of coevolution, but their origin, loss or reassembly with different partners can rarely be inferred. Here we use ant/plant symbioses involving three plant clades to investigate the evolution of symbioses. We generated phylogenies for the big-eyed arboreal ants (Pseudomyrmecinae), including 72% of their 286 species, as well as for five of their plant host groups, in each case sampling more than 61% of the species. We show that the ant-housing Vachellia (Mimosoideae) clade and its ants co-diversified for the past 5 Ma, with some species additionally colonized by younger plant-nesting ant species, some parasitic. An apparent co-radiation of ants and Tachigali (Caesalpinioideae) was followed by waves of colonization by the same ant clade, and subsequent occupation by a younger ant group. Wide crown and stem age differences between the ant-housing genus Triplaris (Polygonaceae) and its obligate ant inhabitants, and stochastic trait mapping, indicate that its domatium evolved earlier than the ants now occupying it, suggesting previous symbioses that dissolved. Parasitic ant species evolved from generalists, not from mutualists, and are younger than the mutualistic systems they parasitize. Our study illuminates the macroevolutionary assembly of ant/plant symbioses, which has been highly dynamic, even in very specialized systems. PMID:26582029

  7. USING ANT COMMUNITIES FOR RAPID ASSESSMENT OF TERRESTRIAL ECOSYSTEM HEALTH

    SciTech Connect

    Wike, L; Doug Martin, D; Michael Paller, M

    2007-01-12

    Ecosystem health with its near infinite number of variables is difficult to measure, and there are many opinions as to which variables are most important, most easily measured, and most robust, Bioassessment avoids the controversy of choosing which physical and chemical parameters to measure because it uses responses of a community of organisms that integrate all aspects of the system in question. A variety of bioassessment methods have been successfully applied to aquatic ecosystems using fish and macroinvertebrate communities. Terrestrial biotic index methods are less developed than those for aquatic systems and we are seeking to address this problem here.more » This study had as its objective to examine the baseline differences in ant communities at different seral stages from clear cut back to mature pine plantation as a precursor to developing a bioassessment protocol. Comparative sampling was conducted at four seral stages; clearcut, 5 year, 15 year and mature pine plantation stands. Soil and vegetation data were collected at each site. All ants collected were preserved in 70% ethyl alcohol and identified to genus. Analysis of the ant data indicates that ants respond strongly to the habitat changes that accompany ecological succession in managed pine forests and that individual genera as well as ant community structure can be used as an indicator of successional change. Ants exhibited relatively high diversity in both early and mature seral stages. High ant diversity in the mature seral stages was likely related to conditions on the forest floor which favored litter dwelling and cool climate specialists.« less

  8. Larval feeding behavior and ant association in frosted elfin, Callophrys irus (Lycaenidae)

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Albanese, G.; Nelson, M.W.; Vickery, P.D.; Sievert, P.R.

    2007-01-01

    Callophrys irus is a rare and declining lycaenid found in the eastern U.S., inhabiting xeric and open habitats maintained by disturbance. Populations are localized and monophagous. We document a previously undescribed larval feeding behavior in both field and lab reared larvae in which late instar larvae girdled the main stem of the host plant. Girdled stems provide a unique feeding sign that was useful in detecting the presence of larvae in the field. We also observed frequent association of field larvae with several species of ants and provide a list of ant species. We suggest two hypotheses on the potential benefits of stem-girdling to C. irus larvae: 1) Stem girdling provides phloem sap as a larval food source and increases the leaf nutrient concentration, increasing larval growth rates and providing high quality honeydew for attending ants; 2) Stem girdling reduces stem toxicity by inhibiting transport of toxins from roots to the stem.

  9. Antimicrobial compounds from leaf extracts of Jatropha curcas, Psidium guajava, and Andrographis paniculata.

    PubMed

    Rahman, M M; Ahmad, S H; Mohamed, M T M; Ab Rahman, M Z

    2014-01-01

    The present research was conducted to discover antimicrobial compounds in methanolic leaf extracts of Jatropha curcas and Andrographis paniculata and ethanolic leaf extract of Psidium guajava and the effectiveness against microbes on flower preservative solution of cut Mokara Red orchid flowers was evaluated. The leaves were analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. A total of nine, 66, and 29 compounds were identified in J. curcas, P. guajava, and A. paniculata leaf extracts, with five (88.18%), four (34.66%), and three (50.47%) having unique antimicrobial compounds, respectively. The experimental design on vase life was conducted using a completely randomized design with 10 replications. The flower vase life was about 6 days in the solution containing the P. guajava and A. paniculata leaf extracts at 15 mg/L. Moreover, solution with leaf extracts of A. paniculata had the lowest bacterial count compared to P. guajava and J. curcas. Thus, these leaf extracts revealed the presence of relevant antimicrobial compounds. The leaf extracts have the potential as a cut flower solution to minimize microbial populations and extend flower vase life. However, the activities of specific antimicrobial compounds and double or triple combination leaf extracts to enhance the effectiveness to extend the vase life need to be tested.

  10. Antimicrobial Compounds from Leaf Extracts of Jatropha curcas, Psidium guajava, and Andrographis paniculata

    PubMed Central

    Rahman, M. M.; Ahmad, S. H.; Mohamed, M. T. M.; Ab Rahman, M. Z.

    2014-01-01

    The present research was conducted to discover antimicrobial compounds in methanolic leaf extracts of Jatropha curcas and Andrographis paniculata and ethanolic leaf extract of Psidium guajava and the effectiveness against microbes on flower preservative solution of cut Mokara Red orchid flowers was evaluated. The leaves were analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. A total of nine, 66, and 29 compounds were identified in J. curcas, P. guajava, and A. paniculata leaf extracts, with five (88.18%), four (34.66%), and three (50.47%) having unique antimicrobial compounds, respectively. The experimental design on vase life was conducted using a completely randomized design with 10 replications. The flower vase life was about 6 days in the solution containing the P. guajava and A. paniculata leaf extracts at 15mg/L. Moreover, solution with leaf extracts of A. paniculata had the lowest bacterial count compared to P. guajava and J. curcas. Thus, these leaf extracts revealed the presence of relevant antimicrobial compounds. The leaf extracts have the potential as a cut flower solution to minimize microbial populations and extend flower vase life. However, the activities of specific antimicrobial compounds and double or triple combination leaf extracts to enhance the effectiveness to extend the vase life need to be tested. PMID:25250382

  11. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) pesticide policy and integrated pest management in certified tropical plantations.

    PubMed

    Lemes, Pedro Guilherme; Zanuncio, José Cola; Serrão, José Eduardo; Lawson, Simon A

    2017-01-01

    The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was the first non-governmental organization composed of multi-stakeholders to ensure the social, environmental, and economic sustainability of forest resources. FSC prohibits certain chemicals and active ingredients in certified forest plantations. A company seeking certification must discontinue use of products so listed and many face problems to comply with these constraints. The aim of this study was to assess the impacts of certification on pest management from the perspective of Brazilian private forestry sector. Ninety-three percent of Brazilian FSC-certified forest companies rated leaf-cutting ants as "very important" pests. Chemical control was the most important management technique used and considered very important by 82 % of respondents. The main chemical used to control leaf-cutting ants, sulfluramid, is in the derogation process and was classified as very important by 96.5 % of the certified companies. Certified companies were generally satisfied in relation to FSC certification and the integrated management of forest pests, but 27.6 % agreed that the prohibitions of pesticides for leaf-cutting ant and termite control could be considered as a non-tariff barrier on high-productivity Brazilian forest plantations. FSC forest certification has encouraged the implementation of more sustainable techniques and decisions in pest management in forest plantations in Brazil. The prohibition on pesticides like sulfluramid and the use of alternatives without the same efficiency will result in pest mismanagement, production losses, and higher costs. This work has shown that the application of global rules for sustainable forest management needs to adapt to each local reality.

  12. Cottonwood leaf beetle control with imidacloprid soaked cuttings

    Treesearch

    Terry L. Robinson; Randall J. Rousseau

    2007-01-01

    Dormant, unrooted cuttings from three eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides Marsh.) clones were soaked in either water or one of two concentrations of Admire® 2 Flowable (imidacloprid) insecticide. Half were planted immediately after soaking while the other half were stored for 12 weeks at -2℃ prior to planting. Trees from...

  13. The phantom leaf effect: a replication, part 1.

    PubMed

    Hubacher, John

    2015-02-01

    To replicate the phantom leaf effect and demonstrate a possible means to directly observe properties of the biological field. Thirty percent to 60% of plant leaves were amputated, and the remaining leaf sections were photographed with corona discharge imaging. All leaves were cut before placement on film. A total of 137 leaves were used. Plant leaves of 14 different species. Ninety-six phantom leaf specimens were successfully obtained; 41 specimens did not yield the phantom leaf effect. A normally undetected phantom "structure," possibly evidence of the biological field, can persist in the area of an amputated leaf section, and corona discharge can occur from this invisible structure. This protocol may suggest a testable method to study properties of conductivity and other parameters through direct observation of the complete biological field in plant leaves, with broad implications for biology and physics.

  14. Utilization of Anting-Anting (Acalypha indica) Leaves as Antibacterial

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Batubara, Irmanida; Wahyuni, Wulan Tri; Firdaus, Imam

    2016-01-01

    Anting-anting (Acalypha indica) plants is a species of plant having catkin type of inflorescence. This research aims to utilize anting-anting as antibacterial toward Streptococcus mutans and degradation of biofilm on teeth. Anting-anting leaves were extracted by maceration technique using methanol, chloroform, and n-hexane. Antibacterial and biofilm degradation assays were performed using microdilution technique with 96 well. n-Hexane extracts of anting-anting leaves gave the best antibacterial potency with minimum inhibitory concentration and minimum bactericidal concentration value of 500 μg/mL and exhibited good biofilm degradation activity. Fraction of F3 obtained from fractionation of n-hexane's extract with column chromatography was a potential for degradation of biofilm with IC50 value of 56.82 μg/mL. Alkaloid was suggested as antibacterial and degradation of biofilm in the active fraction.

  15. DNA barcoding to identify leaf preference of leafcutting bees

    PubMed Central

    2016-01-01

    Leafcutting bees (Megachile: Megachilidae) cut leaves from various trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses to partition and encase brood cells in hollow plant stems, decaying logs or in the ground. The identification of preferred plant species via morphological characters of the leaf fragments is challenging and direct observation of bees cutting leaves from certain plant species are difficult. As such, data are poor on leaf preference of leafcutting bees. In this study, I use DNA barcoding of the rcbL and ITS2 regions to identify and compare leaf preference of three Megachile bee species widespread in Toronto, Canada. Nests were opened and one leaf piece from one cell per nest of the native M. pugnata Say (N=45 leaf pieces), and the introduced M. rotundata Fabricius (N=64) and M. centuncularis (L.) (N=65) were analysed. From 174 individual DNA sequences, 54 plant species were identified. Preference by M. rotundata was most diverse (36 leaf species, H′=3.08, phylogenetic diversity (pd)=2.97), followed by M. centuncularis (23 species, H′=2.38, pd=1.51) then M. pugnata (18 species, H′=1.87, pd=1.22). Cluster analysis revealed significant overlap in leaf choice of M. rotundata and M. centuncularis. There was no significant preference for native leaves, and only M. centuncularis showed preference for leaves of woody plants over perennials. Interestingly, antimicrobial properties were present in all but six plants collected; all these were exotic plants and none were collected by the native bee, M. pugnata. These missing details in interpreting what bees need offers valuable information for conservation by accounting for necessary (and potentially limiting) nesting materials. PMID:27069650

  16. DNA barcoding to identify leaf preference of leafcutting bees.

    PubMed

    MacIvor, J Scott

    2016-03-01

    Leafcutting bees (Megachile: Megachilidae) cut leaves from various trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses to partition and encase brood cells in hollow plant stems, decaying logs or in the ground. The identification of preferred plant species via morphological characters of the leaf fragments is challenging and direct observation of bees cutting leaves from certain plant species are difficult. As such, data are poor on leaf preference of leafcutting bees. In this study, I use DNA barcoding of the rcbL and ITS2 regions to identify and compare leaf preference of three Megachile bee species widespread in Toronto, Canada. Nests were opened and one leaf piece from one cell per nest of the native M. pugnata Say (N=45 leaf pieces), and the introduced M. rotundata Fabricius (N=64) and M. centuncularis (L.) (N=65) were analysed. From 174 individual DNA sequences, 54 plant species were identified. Preference by M. rotundata was most diverse (36 leaf species, H'=3.08, phylogenetic diversity (pd)=2.97), followed by M. centuncularis (23 species, H'=2.38, pd=1.51) then M. pugnata (18 species, H'=1.87, pd=1.22). Cluster analysis revealed significant overlap in leaf choice of M. rotundata and M. centuncularis. There was no significant preference for native leaves, and only M. centuncularis showed preference for leaves of woody plants over perennials. Interestingly, antimicrobial properties were present in all but six plants collected; all these were exotic plants and none were collected by the native bee, M. pugnata. These missing details in interpreting what bees need offers valuable information for conservation by accounting for necessary (and potentially limiting) nesting materials.

  17. Imported fire ants: the ants from hell!

    PubMed

    Freeman, T M

    1994-01-01

    Imported fire ants may certainly be considered the ANTS FROM HELL! This review focuses on both the interesting entomology of fire ants and the important medical characteristics of fire ant stings. They sting and they kill; they destroy; they mate in mid-air; and we may not be able to stop them. However, although they inject extremely potent venom, individuals can prevent secondary infections by leaving the so-called pustules alone and not opening them. Individuals who suffer systemic reactions may receive adequate treatment with the whole body extract immunotherapy.

  18. Arboreal Ants Use the “Velcro® Principle” to Capture Very Large Prey

    PubMed Central

    Dejean, Alain; Leroy, Céline; Corbara, Bruno; Roux, Olivier; Céréghino, Régis; Orivel, Jérôme; Boulay, Raphaël

    2010-01-01

    Plant-ants live in a mutualistic association with host plants known as “myrmecophytes” that provide them with a nesting place and sometimes with extra-floral nectar (EFN) and/or food bodies (FBs); the ants can also attend sap-sucking Hemiptera for their honeydew. In return, plant-ants, like most other arboreal ants, protect their host plants from defoliators. To satisfy their nitrogen requirements, however, some have optimized their ability to capture prey in the restricted environment represented by the crowns of trees by using elaborate hunting techniques. In this study, we investigated the predatory behavior of the ant Azteca andreae which is associated with the myrmecophyte Cecropia obtusa. We noted that up to 8350 ant workers per tree hide side-by-side beneath the leaf margins of their host plant with their mandibles open, waiting for insects to alight. The latter are immediately seized by their extremities, and then spread-eagled; nestmates are recruited to help stretch, carve up and transport prey. This group ambush hunting technique is particularly effective when the underside of the leaves is downy, as is the case for C. obtusa. In this case, the hook-shaped claws of the A. andreae workers and the velvet-like structure of the underside of the leaves combine to act like natural Velcro® that is reinforced by the group ambush strategy of the workers, allowing them to capture prey of up to 13,350 times the mean weight of a single worker. PMID:20593032

  19. Leaf beetles are ant-nest beetles: the curious life of the juvenile stages of case-bearers (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae, Cryptocephalinae)

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    Although some species of Cryptocephalinae (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) have been documented with ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) for almost 200 years, information on this association is fragmentary. This contribution synthesizes scattered literature to determine the patterns in ant host use. Some degr...

  20. Ants and ant scent reduce bumblebee pollination of artificial flowers.

    PubMed

    Cembrowski, Adam R; Tan, Marcus G; Thomson, James D; Frederickson, Megan E

    2014-01-01

    Ants on flowers can disrupt pollination by consuming rewards or harassing pollinators, but it is difficult to disentangle the effects of these exploitative and interference forms of competition on pollinator behavior. Using highly rewarding and quickly replenishing artificial flowers that simulate male or female function, we allowed bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) to forage (1) on flowers with or without ants (Myrmica rubra) and (2) on flowers with or without ant scent cues. Bumblebees transferred significantly more pollen analogue both to and from ant-free flowers, demonstrating that interference competition with ants is sufficient to modify pollinator foraging behavior. Bees also removed significantly less pollen analogue from ant-scented flowers than from controls, making this the first study to show that bees can use ant scent to avoid harassment at flowers. Ant effects on pollinator behavior, possibly in addition to their effects on pollen viability, may contribute to the evolution of floral traits minimizing ant visitation.

  1. Honey Ants.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Conway, John R.

    1984-01-01

    Provides background information on honey ants. These ants are found in dry or desert regions of North America, Africa, and Australia. Also provides a list of activities using local species of ants. (JN)

  2. Ant-seed mutualisms: Can red imported fire ants sour the relationship?

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Zettler, J.A.; Spira, T.P.; Allen, Craig R.

    2001-01-01

    Invasion by the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, has had negative impacts on individual animal and plant species, but little is known about how S. invicta affects complex mutualistic relationships. In some eastern forests of North America, 30% of herbaceous species have ant-dispersed seeds. We conducted experiments to determine if fire ants are attracted to seeds of these plant species and assessed the amount of scarification or damage that results from handling by fire ants. Fire ants removed nearly 100% of seeds of the ant-dispersed plants Trillium undulatum, T. discolor, T. catesbaei, Viola rotundifolia, and Sanguinaria canadensis. In recovered seeds fed to ant colonies, fire ants scarified 80% of S. canadensis seeds and destroyed 86% of V. rotundifolia seeds. Our study is the first to document that red imported fire ants are attracted to and remove seeds of species adapted for ant dispersal. Moreover, fire ants might damage these seeds and discard them in sites unfavorable for germination and seedling establishment. ?? 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

  3. Genome-Wide Association Studies of Anthracnose and Angular Leaf Spot Resistance in Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.)

    PubMed Central

    Perseguini, Juliana Morini Küpper Cardoso; Oblessuc, Paula Rodrigues; Rosa, João Ricardo Bachega Feijó; Gomes, Kleber Alves; Chiorato, Alisson Fernando; Carbonell, Sérgio Augusto Morais; Garcia, Antonio Augusto Franco; Vianello, Rosana Pereira; Benchimol-Reis, Luciana Lasry

    2016-01-01

    The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is the world’s most important legume for human consumption. Anthracnose (ANT; Colletotrichum lindemuthianum) and angular leaf spot (ALS; Pseudocercospora griseola) are complex diseases that cause major yield losses in common bean. Depending on the cultivar and environmental conditions, anthracnose and angular leaf spot infections can reduce crop yield drastically. This study aimed to estimate linkage disequilibrium levels and identify quantitative resistance loci (QRL) controlling resistance to both ANT and ALS diseases of 180 accessions of common bean using genome-wide association analysis. A randomized complete block design with four replicates was performed for the ANT and ALS experiments, with four plants per genotype in each replicate. Association mapping analyses were performed for ANT and ALS using a mixed linear model approach implemented in TASSEL. A total of 17 and 11 significant statistically associations involving SSRs were detected for ANT and ALS resistance loci, respectively. Using SNPs, 21 and 17 significant statistically associations were obtained for ANT and angular ALS, respectively, providing more associations with this marker. The SSR-IAC167 and PvM95 markers, both located on chromosome Pv03, and the SNP scaffold00021_89379, were associated with both diseases. The other markers were distributed across the entire common bean genome, with chromosomes Pv03 and Pv08 showing the greatest number of loci associated with ANT resistance. The chromosome Pv04 was the most saturated one, with six markers associated with ALS resistance. The telomeric region of this chromosome showed four markers located between approximately 2.5 Mb and 4.4 Mb. Our results demonstrate the great potential of genome-wide association studies to identify QRLs related to ANT and ALS in common bean. The results indicate a quantitative and complex inheritance pattern for both diseases in common bean. Our findings will contribute to more

  4. Genome-Wide Association Studies of Anthracnose and Angular Leaf Spot Resistance in Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.).

    PubMed

    Perseguini, Juliana Morini Küpper Cardoso; Oblessuc, Paula Rodrigues; Rosa, João Ricardo Bachega Feijó; Gomes, Kleber Alves; Chiorato, Alisson Fernando; Carbonell, Sérgio Augusto Morais; Garcia, Antonio Augusto Franco; Vianello, Rosana Pereira; Benchimol-Reis, Luciana Lasry

    2016-01-01

    The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is the world's most important legume for human consumption. Anthracnose (ANT; Colletotrichum lindemuthianum) and angular leaf spot (ALS; Pseudocercospora griseola) are complex diseases that cause major yield losses in common bean. Depending on the cultivar and environmental conditions, anthracnose and angular leaf spot infections can reduce crop yield drastically. This study aimed to estimate linkage disequilibrium levels and identify quantitative resistance loci (QRL) controlling resistance to both ANT and ALS diseases of 180 accessions of common bean using genome-wide association analysis. A randomized complete block design with four replicates was performed for the ANT and ALS experiments, with four plants per genotype in each replicate. Association mapping analyses were performed for ANT and ALS using a mixed linear model approach implemented in TASSEL. A total of 17 and 11 significant statistically associations involving SSRs were detected for ANT and ALS resistance loci, respectively. Using SNPs, 21 and 17 significant statistically associations were obtained for ANT and angular ALS, respectively, providing more associations with this marker. The SSR-IAC167 and PvM95 markers, both located on chromosome Pv03, and the SNP scaffold00021_89379, were associated with both diseases. The other markers were distributed across the entire common bean genome, with chromosomes Pv03 and Pv08 showing the greatest number of loci associated with ANT resistance. The chromosome Pv04 was the most saturated one, with six markers associated with ALS resistance. The telomeric region of this chromosome showed four markers located between approximately 2.5 Mb and 4.4 Mb. Our results demonstrate the great potential of genome-wide association studies to identify QRLs related to ANT and ALS in common bean. The results indicate a quantitative and complex inheritance pattern for both diseases in common bean. Our findings will contribute to more

  5. Non-native Ants Are Smaller than Related Native Ants.

    PubMed

    McGlynn, Terrence P

    1999-12-01

    I compare the sizes of non-native and native ants to evaluate how worker size may be related to the ability of a species to invade new habitats. I compare the size of 78 non-native ant species belonging to 26 genera with the size of native congeneric species; native ants are larger than non-native ants in 22 of 26 genera. Ants were sorted by genera into fighting and nonfighting groups, based on observations of interspecific interactions with other ant species. In all of the genera with monomorphic worker castes that fight during competition, the non-native species were smaller than the native species. The genera that engage in combat had a higher frequency of significantly smaller size in non-native ants. I selected Wasmannia auropunctata for further studies, to compare native and non-native populations. Specimens of W. auropunctata from non-native populations were smaller than conspecific counterparts from its native habitat. I consider hypotheses to explain why non-native ants are smaller in size than native ants, including the role of colony size in interspecific fights, changes in life history, the release from intraspecific fighting, and climate. The discovery that fighting non-natives are smaller than their closest native relatives may provide insight into the mechanisms for success of non-native species, as well as the role of worker size and colony size during interspecific competition.

  6. Cellulose-Enriched Microbial Communities from Leaf-Cutter Ant (Atta colombica) Refuse Dumps Vary in Taxonomic Composition and Degradation Ability

    PubMed Central

    Lewin, Gina R.; Johnson, Amanda L.; Soto, Rolando D. Moreira; Perry, Kailene; Book, Adam J.; Horn, Heidi A.; Pinto-Tomás, Adrián A.; Currie, Cameron R.

    2016-01-01

    Deconstruction of the cellulose in plant cell walls is critical for carbon flow through ecosystems and for the production of sustainable cellulosic biofuels. Our understanding of cellulose deconstruction is largely limited to the study of microbes in isolation, but in nature, this process is driven by microbes within complex communities. In Neotropical forests, microbes in leaf-cutter ant refuse dumps are important for carbon turnover. These dumps consist of decaying plant material and a diverse bacterial community, as shown here by electron microscopy. To study the portion of the community capable of cellulose degradation, we performed enrichments on cellulose using material from five Atta colombica refuse dumps. The ability of enriched communities to degrade cellulose varied significantly across refuse dumps. 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing of enriched samples identified that the community structure correlated with refuse dump and with degradation ability. Overall, samples were dominated by Bacteroidetes, Gammaproteobacteria, and Betaproteobacteria. Half of abundant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) across samples were classified within genera containing known cellulose degraders, including Acidovorax, the most abundant OTU detected across samples, which was positively correlated with cellulolytic ability. A representative Acidovorax strain was isolated, but did not grow on cellulose alone. Phenotypic and compositional analyses of enrichment cultures, such as those presented here, help link community composition with cellulolytic ability and provide insight into the complexity of community-based cellulose degradation. PMID:26999749

  7. The Antsy Social Network: Determinants of Nest Structure and Arrangement in Asian Weaver Ants.

    PubMed

    Devarajan, Kadambari

    2016-01-01

    Asian weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) are arboreal ants that are known to form mutualistic complexes with their host trees. They are eusocial ants that build elaborate nests in the canopy in tropical areas. A colony comprises of multiple nests, usually on multiple trees, and the boundaries of the colony may be difficult to identify. However, they provide the ideal model for studying group living in invertebrates since there are a definite number of nests for a given substrate, the tree. Here, we briefly examine the structure of the nests and the processes involved in the construction and maintenance of these nests. We have described the spatial arrangement of weaver ant nests on trees in two distinct tropical clusters, a few hundred kilometres apart in India. Measurements were made for 13 trees with a total of 71 nests in the two field sites. We have considered a host of biotic and abiotic factors that may be crucial in determining the location of the nesting site by Asian weaver ants. Our results indicate that tree characteristics and architecture followed by leaf features help determine nest location in Asian weaver ants. While environmental factors may not be as influential to nest arrangement, they seem to be important determinants of nest structure. The parameters that may be considered in establishing the nests could be crucial in picking the evolutionary drivers for colonial living in social organisms.

  8. Leaf Cutter Ant (Atta cephalotes) Soil Modification and In Situ CO2 Gas Dynamics in a Neotropical Wet Forest

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fernandez Bou, A. S.; Carrasquillo Quintana, O.; Dierick, D.; Harmon, T. C.; Johnson, S.; Schwendenmann, L.; Zelikova, T. J.

    2016-12-01

    The goal of this work is to advance our understanding of soil carbon cycling in highly productive neotropical wet forests. More specifically, we are investigating the influence of leaf cutter ants (LCA) on soil CO2 gas dynamics in primary and secondary forest soils at La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica. LCA are the dominant herbivore in tropical Americas, responsible for as much as 50% of the total herbivory. Their presence is increasing and their range is expanding because of forest fragmentation and other human impacts. We installed gas sampling wells in LCA (Atta cephalotes) nest and control sites (non-nests in the same soil and forest settings). The experimental design encompassed land cover (primary and secondary forest) and soil type (residual and alluvial). We collected gas samples monthly over an 18-month period. Several of the LCA nests were abandoned during this period. Nevertheless, we continued to sample these sites for LCA legacy effects. In several of the sites, we also installed sensors to continuously monitor soil moisture content, temperature, and CO2 levels. Within the 18-month period we conducted a 2-month field campaign to collect soil and nest vent CO2 efflux data from 3 of the nest-control pairs. Integrating the various data sets, we observed that for most of the sites nest and control soils behaved similarly during the tropical dry season. However, during the wet season gas well CO2 concentrations increased in the control sites while levels in the nests remained at dry season levels. This outcome suggests that ants modify soil gas transport properties (e.g., tortuosity). In situ time series and efflux sampling campaign data corroborated these findings. Abandoned nest CO2 levels were similar to those of the active nests, supporting the notion of a legacy effect from LCA manipulations. For this work, the period of abandonment was relatively short (several months to 1 year maximum), which appears to be insufficient for estimating the

  9. Rationality in collective decision-making by ant colonies.

    PubMed

    Edwards, Susan C; Pratt, Stephen C

    2009-10-22

    Economic models of animal behaviour assume that decision-makers are rational, meaning that they assess options according to intrinsic fitness value and not by comparison with available alternatives. This expectation is frequently violated, but the significance of irrational behaviour remains controversial. One possibility is that irrationality arises from cognitive constraints that necessitate short cuts like comparative evaluation. If so, the study of whether and when irrationality occurs can illuminate cognitive mechanisms. We applied this logic in a novel setting: the collective decisions of insect societies. We tested for irrationality in colonies of Temnothorax ants choosing between two nest sites that varied in multiple attributes, such that neither site was clearly superior. In similar situations, individual animals show irrational changes in preference when a third relatively unattractive option is introduced. In contrast, we found no such effect in colonies. We suggest that immunity to irrationality in this case may result from the ants' decentralized decision mechanism. A colony's choice does not depend on site comparison by individuals, but instead self-organizes from the interactions of multiple ants, most of which are aware of only a single site. This strategy may filter out comparative effects, preventing systematic errors that would otherwise arise from the cognitive limitations of individuals.

  10. Optimizing Robinson Operator with Ant Colony Optimization As a Digital Image Edge Detection Method

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yanti Nasution, Tarida; Zarlis, Muhammad; K. M Nasution, Mahyuddin

    2017-12-01

    Edge detection serves to identify the boundaries of an object against a background of mutual overlap. One of the classic method for edge detection is operator Robinson. Operator Robinson produces a thin, not assertive and grey line edge. To overcome these deficiencies, the proposed improvements to edge detection method with the approach graph with Ant Colony Optimization algorithm. The repairs may be performed are thicken the edge and connect the edges cut off. Edge detection research aims to do optimization of operator Robinson with Ant Colony Optimization then compare the output and generated the inferred extent of Ant Colony Optimization can improve result of edge detection that has not been optimized and improve the accuracy of the results of Robinson edge detection. The parameters used in performance measurement of edge detection are morphology of the resulting edge line, MSE and PSNR. The result showed that Robinson and Ant Colony Optimization method produces images with a more assertive and thick edge. Ant Colony Optimization method is able to be used as a method for optimizing operator Robinson by improving the image result of Robinson detection average 16.77 % than classic Robinson result.

  11. Impact of forest seral stage on use of ant communities for rapid assessment of terrestrial ecosystem health.

    PubMed

    Wike, Lynn D; Martin, F Douglas; Paller, Michael H; Nelson, Eric A

    2010-01-01

    Bioassessment evaluates ecosystem health by using the responses of a community of organisms that integrate all aspects of the ecosystem. A variety of bioassessment methods have been applied to aquatic ecosystems; however, terrestrial methods are less advanced. The objective of this study was to examine baseline differences in ant communities at different seral stages from clear cut to mature pine plantation as a precursor to developing a broader terrestrial bioassessment protocol. Comparative sampling was conducted at nine sites having four seral stages: clearcut, 5 year recovery, 15 year recovery, and mature stands. Soil and vegetation data were also collected at each site. Ants were identified to genus. Analysis of the ant data indicated that ants respond strongly to habitat changes that accompany ecological succession in managed pine forests, and both individual genera and ant community structure can be used as indicators of successional change. Ants exhibited relatively high diversity in both early and mature seral stages. High ant diversity in mature seral stages was likely related to conditions on the forest floor favoring litter dwelling and cold climate specialists. While ants may be very useful in identifying environmental stress in managed pine forests, adjustments must be made for seral stage when comparing impacted and unimpacted forests.

  12. Productive potential of cassava plants (Manihot esculenta Crantz) propagated by leaf buds.

    PubMed

    Neves, Reizaluamar J; Diniz, Rafael P; Oliveira, Eder J DE

    2018-04-23

    New techniques of rapid multiplication of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) have been developed, requiring technical support for large-scale use. This work main to evaluate the agronomic performance of plantlets obtained by leaf buds technique against stem cuttings in the field conditions. The work was conducted using the randomized block design in a factorial scheme with 3 varieties (BRS Kiriris, 98150-06, 9624-09) × 4 origins of the plantlets (conventional - stem cuttings of 20 cm length, leaf buds of the upper, middle and inferior stem part) × 2 agrochemicals (control and treated). There was a remarkable decrease in some agronomic traits that ranged from 23% (number of branches) to 62% (shoot weight) when using leaf buds plantlets. The treatment of plantlets with agrochemicals promoted significant increases in all traits, ranging from 26% (number of roots per plant) to 46% (shoot weight). The plantlets originating from leaf buds of the upper and middle parts were able to generate stem-like plants similar to stem-derived ones. Despite its lower agronomic performance under field conditions, multiplication by leaf buds may generate five times the number of propagules in comparison with the conventional multiplication, and therefore it could be a viable alternative for rapid cassava multiplication.

  13. Monitoring the Diversity of Hunting Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on a Fragmented and Restored Andean Landscape.

    PubMed

    Herrera-Rangel, J; Jiménez-Carmona, E; Armbrecht, I

    2015-10-01

    Hunting ants are predators of organisms belonging to different trophic levels. Their presence, abundance, and diversity may reflect the diversity of other ants and contribute to evaluate habitat conditions. Between 2003 and 2005 the restoration of seven corridors in an Andean rural landscape of Colombia was performed. The restoration took place in lands that were formerly either forestry plantations or pasturelands. To evaluate restoration progress, hunting ants were intensely sampled for 7 yr, using sifted leaf litter and mini-Winkler, and pitfall traps in 21 plots classified into five vegetation types: forests, riparian forests, two types of restored corridors, and pasturelands. The ant communities were faithful to their habitat over time, and the main differences in ant composition, abundance, and richness were due to differences among land use types. The forests and riparian forests support 45% of the species in the landscape while the restored corridors contain between 8.3-25%. The change from forest to pasturelands represents a loss of 80% of the species. Ant composition in restored corridors was significantly different than in forests but restored corridors of soil of forestry plantations retained 16.7% more species than restored corridors from pasturelands. Ubiquitous hunting ants, Hypoponera opacior (Forel) and Gnamptogenys ca andina were usually associated with pastures and dominate restored corridors. Other cryptic, small, and specialized hunting ants are not present in the restored corridors. Results suggest that the history of land use is important for the biodiversity of hunting ants but also that corridors have not yet effectively contributed toward conservation goals. © The Authors 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.

  14. Granular rheology: measuring boundary forces with laser-cut leaf springs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Tang, Zhu; Brzinski, Theodore A.; Daniels, Karen E.

    2017-06-01

    In granular physics experiments, it is a persistent challenge to obtain the boundary stress measurements necessary to provide full a rheological characterization of the dynamics. Here, we describe a new technique by which the outer boundary of a 2D Couette cell both confines the granular material and provides spatially- and temporally- resolved stress measurements. This key advance is enabled by desktop laser-cutting technology, which allows us to design and cut linearly-deformable walls with a specified spring constant. By tracking the position of each segment of the wall, we measure both the normal and tangential stress throughout the experiment. This permits us to calculate the amount of shear stress provided by basal friction, and thereby determine accurate values of μ(I).

  15. Ant-plant mutualism: a dietary by-product of a tropical ant's macronutrient requirements.

    PubMed

    Arcila Hernández, Lina M; Sanders, Jon G; Miller, Gabriel A; Ravenscraft, Alison; Frederickson, Megan E

    2017-12-01

    Many arboreal ants depend on myrmecophytic plants for both food and shelter; in return, these ants defend their host plants against herbivores, which are often insects. Ant-plant and other mutualisms do not necessarily involve the exchange of costly rewards or services; they may instead result from by-product benefits, or positive outcomes that do not entail a cost for one or both partners. Here, we examined whether the plant-ant Allomerus octoarticulatus pays a short-term cost to defend their host plants against herbivores, or whether plant defense is a by-product benefit of ant foraging for insect prey. Because the food offered by ant-plants is usually nitrogen-poor, arboreal ants may balance their diets by consuming insect prey or associating with microbial symbionts to acquire nitrogen, potentially shifting the costs and benefits of plant defense for the ant partner. To determine the effect of ant diet on an ant-plant mutualism, we compared the behavior, morphology, fitness, stable isotope signatures, and gaster microbiomes of A. octoarticulatus ants nesting in Cordia nodosa trees maintained for nearly a year with or without insect herbivores. At the end of the experiment, ants from herbivore exclosures preferred protein-rich baits more than ants in the control (i.e., herbivores present) treatment. Furthermore, workers in the control treatment were heavier than in the herbivore-exclusion treatment, and worker mass predicted reproductive output, suggesting that foraging for insect prey directly increased ant colony fitness. The gaster microbiome of ants was not significantly affected by the herbivore exclusion treatment. We conclude that the defensive behavior of some phytoecious ants is a by-product of their need for external protein sources; thus, the consumption of insect herbivores by ants benefits both the ant colony and the host plant. © 2017 by the Ecological Society of America.

  16. An Improved Hierarchical Genetic Algorithm for Sheet Cutting Scheduling with Process Constraints

    PubMed Central

    Rao, Yunqing; Qi, Dezhong; Li, Jinling

    2013-01-01

    For the first time, an improved hierarchical genetic algorithm for sheet cutting problem which involves n cutting patterns for m non-identical parallel machines with process constraints has been proposed in the integrated cutting stock model. The objective of the cutting scheduling problem is minimizing the weighted completed time. A mathematical model for this problem is presented, an improved hierarchical genetic algorithm (ant colony—hierarchical genetic algorithm) is developed for better solution, and a hierarchical coding method is used based on the characteristics of the problem. Furthermore, to speed up convergence rates and resolve local convergence issues, a kind of adaptive crossover probability and mutation probability is used in this algorithm. The computational result and comparison prove that the presented approach is quite effective for the considered problem. PMID:24489491

  17. An improved hierarchical genetic algorithm for sheet cutting scheduling with process constraints.

    PubMed

    Rao, Yunqing; Qi, Dezhong; Li, Jinling

    2013-01-01

    For the first time, an improved hierarchical genetic algorithm for sheet cutting problem which involves n cutting patterns for m non-identical parallel machines with process constraints has been proposed in the integrated cutting stock model. The objective of the cutting scheduling problem is minimizing the weighted completed time. A mathematical model for this problem is presented, an improved hierarchical genetic algorithm (ant colony--hierarchical genetic algorithm) is developed for better solution, and a hierarchical coding method is used based on the characteristics of the problem. Furthermore, to speed up convergence rates and resolve local convergence issues, a kind of adaptive crossover probability and mutation probability is used in this algorithm. The computational result and comparison prove that the presented approach is quite effective for the considered problem.

  18. Nesting habits shape feeding preferences and predatory behavior in an ant genus

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dejean, Alain; Labrière, Nicolas; Touchard, Axel; Petitclerc, Frédéric; Roux, Olivier

    2014-04-01

    We tested if nesting habits influence ant feeding preferences and predatory behavior in the monophyletic genus Pseudomyrmex (Pseudomyrmecinae) which comprises terrestrial and arboreal species, and, among the latter, plant-ants which are obligate inhabitants of myrmecophytes (i.e., plants sheltering so-called plant-ants in hollow structures). A cafeteria experiment revealed that the diet of ground-nesting Pseudomyrmex consists mostly of prey and that of arboreal species consists mostly of sugary substances, whereas the plant-ants discarded all the food we provided. Workers forage solitarily, detecting prey from a distance thanks to their hypertrophied eyes. Approach is followed by antennal contact, seizure, and the manipulation of the prey to sting it under its thorax (next to the ventral nerve cord). Arboreal species were not more efficient at capturing prey than were ground-nesting species. A large worker size favors prey capture. Workers from ground- and arboreal-nesting species show several uncommon behavioral traits, each known in different ant genera from different subfamilies: leaping abilities, the use of surface tension strengths to transport liquids, short-range recruitment followed by conflicts between nestmates, the consumption of the prey's hemolymph, and the retrieval of entire prey or pieces of prey after having cut it up. Yet, we never noted group ambushing. We also confirmed that Pseudomyrmex plant-ants live in a kind of food autarky as they feed only on rewards produced by their host myrmecophyte, or on honeydew produced by the hemipterans they attend and possibly on the fungi they cultivate.

  19. The Ants Have It!

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Daugherty, Belinda

    2001-01-01

    Uses the GEMS guide, "Ants at Home Underground", to explore the life of ants and teach about them in a classroom setting. The activity applies students' knowledge of ants and students learn about ant colonies, what ants eat, and how they live. (SAH)

  20. BOREAS TE-9 NSA Leaf Chlorophyll Density

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Hall, Forrest G. (Editor); Curd, Shelaine (Editor); Margolis, Hank; Sy, Mikailou

    2000-01-01

    The BOREAS TE-9 team collected several data sets related to chemical and photosynthetic properties of leaves in boreal forest tree species. These data were collected to help provide an explanation of potential seasonal and spatial changes of leaf pigment properties in boreal forest species at the NSA. At different dates (FFC-Winter, FFC-Thaw, IFC-1, IFC-2, and IMC-3), foliage samples were collected from the upper third of the canopy for five NSA sites (YJP, OJP, OBS, UBS, and OA) near Thompson, Manitoba. Subsamples of 100 needles for black spruce, 20 needles for jack pine, and single leaf for trembling aspen were cut into pieces and immersed in a 20-mL DMF aliquot in a Nalgene test tube. The extracted foliage materials were then oven-dried at 68 C for 48 hours and weighed. Extracted leaf dry weight was converted to a total leaf area basis to express the chlorophyll content in mg/sq cm of total leaf area. The data are provided in tabular ASCII files. The data files are available on a CD-ROM (see document number 20010000884), or from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC).

  1. Simultaneous minimization of leaf travel distance and tongue-and-groove effect for segmental intensity-modulated radiation therapy.

    PubMed

    Dai, Jianrong; Que, William

    2004-12-07

    This paper introduces a method to simultaneously minimize the leaf travel distance and the tongue-and-groove effect for IMRT leaf sequences to be delivered in segmental mode. The basic idea is to add a large enough number of openings through cutting or splitting existing openings for those leaf pairs with openings fewer than the number of segments so that all leaf pairs have the same number of openings. The cutting positions are optimally determined with a simulated annealing technique called adaptive simulated annealing. The optimization goal is set to minimize the weighted summation of the leaf travel distance and tongue-and-groove effect. Its performance was evaluated with 19 beams from three clinical cases; one brain, one head-and-neck and one prostate case. The results show that it can reduce the leaf travel distance and (or) tongue-and-groove effect; the reduction of the leaf travel distance reaches its maximum of about 50% when minimized alone; the reduction of the tongue-and-groove reaches its maximum of about 70% when minimized alone. The maximum reduction in the leaf travel distance translates to a 1 to 2 min reduction in treatment delivery time per fraction, depending on leaf speed. If the method is implemented clinically, it could result in significant savings in treatment delivery time, and also result in significant reduction in the wear-and-tear of MLC mechanics.

  2. Monocot Leaves are Eaten Less than Dicot Leaves in Tropical Lowland Rain Forests: Correlations with Toughness and Leaf Presentation

    PubMed Central

    Grubb, Peter J.; Jackson, Robyn V.; Barberis, Ignacio M.; Bee, Jennie N.; Coomes, David A.; Dominy, Nathaniel J.; De La Fuente, Marie Ann S.; Lucas, Peter W.; Metcalfe, Daniel J.; Svenning, Jens-Christian; Turner, Ian M.; Vargas, Orlando

    2008-01-01

    Background and Aims In tropical lowland rain forest (TLRF) the leaves of most monocots differ from those of most dicots in two ways that may reduce attack by herbivores. Firstly, they are tougher. Secondly, the immature leaves are tightly folded or rolled until 50–100 % of their final length. It was hypothesized that (a) losses of leaf area to herbivorous invertebrates are generally greatest during leaf expansion and smaller for monocots than for dicots, and (b) where losses after expansion are appreciable any difference between monocots and dicots then is smaller than that found during expansion. Methods At six sites on four continents, estimates were made of lamina area loss from the four most recently mature leaves of focal monocots and of the nearest dicot shoot. Measurements of leaf mass per unit area, and the concentrations of water and nitrogen were made for many of the species. In Panama, the losses from monocots (palms) and dicots were also measured after placing fully expanded palm leaflets and whole dicot leaves on trails of leaf-cutter ants. Key Results At five of six sites monocots experienced significantly smaller leaf area loss than dicots. The results were not explicable in terms of leaf mass per unit area, or concentrations of water or nitrogen. At only one site was the increase in loss from first to fourth mature leaf significant (also large and the same in monocots and dicots), but the losses sustained during expansion were much smaller in the monocots. In the leaf-cutter ant experiment, losses were much smaller for palms than for dicots. Conclusions The relationship between toughness and herbivory is complex; despite the negative findings of some recent authors for dicots we hypothesize that either greater toughness or late folding can protect monocot leaves against herbivorous insects in tropical lowland rain forest, and that the relative importance varies widely with species. The difficulties of establishing unequivocally the roles of leaf

  3. Cellulose-Enriched Microbial Communities from Leaf-Cutter Ant (Atta colombica) Refuse Dumps Vary in Taxonomic Composition and Degradation Ability

    DOE PAGES

    Lewin, Gina R.; Johnson, Amanda L.; Soto, Rolando D. Moreira; ...

    2016-03-21

    Deconstruction of the cellulose in plant cell walls is critical for carbon flow through ecosystems and for the production of sustainable cellulosic biofuels. Our understanding of cellulose deconstruction is largely limited to the study of microbes in isolation, but in nature, this process is driven by microbes within complex communities. In Neotropical forests, microbes in leaf-cutter ant refuse dumps are important for carbon turnover. These dumps consist of decaying plant material and a diverse bacterial community, as shown here by electron microscopy. To study the portion of the community capable of cellulose degradation, we performed enrichments on cellulose using materialmore » from five Atta colombica refuse dumps. The ability of enriched communities to degrade cellulose varied significantly across refuse dumps. 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing of enriched samples identified that the community structure correlated with refuse dump and with degradation ability. Overall, samples were dominated by Bacteroidetes, Gammaproteobacteria, and Betaproteobacteria. Half of abundant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) across samples were classified within general containing known cellulose degraders, including Acidovorax, the most abundant OTU detected across samples, which was positively correlated with cellulolytic ability. Lastly, a representative Acidovorax strain was isolated, but did not grow on cellulose alone. Phenotypic and compositional analyses of enrichment cultures, such as those presented here, help link community composition with cellulolytic ability and provide insight into the complexity of community-based cellulose degradation.« less

  4. Cellulose-Enriched Microbial Communities from Leaf-Cutter Ant (Atta colombica) Refuse Dumps Vary in Taxonomic Composition and Degradation Ability

    SciTech Connect

    Lewin, Gina R.; Johnson, Amanda L.; Soto, Rolando D. Moreira

    Deconstruction of the cellulose in plant cell walls is critical for carbon flow through ecosystems and for the production of sustainable cellulosic biofuels. Our understanding of cellulose deconstruction is largely limited to the study of microbes in isolation, but in nature, this process is driven by microbes within complex communities. In Neotropical forests, microbes in leaf-cutter ant refuse dumps are important for carbon turnover. These dumps consist of decaying plant material and a diverse bacterial community, as shown here by electron microscopy. To study the portion of the community capable of cellulose degradation, we performed enrichments on cellulose using materialmore » from five Atta colombica refuse dumps. The ability of enriched communities to degrade cellulose varied significantly across refuse dumps. 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing of enriched samples identified that the community structure correlated with refuse dump and with degradation ability. Overall, samples were dominated by Bacteroidetes, Gammaproteobacteria, and Betaproteobacteria. Half of abundant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) across samples were classified within general containing known cellulose degraders, including Acidovorax, the most abundant OTU detected across samples, which was positively correlated with cellulolytic ability. Lastly, a representative Acidovorax strain was isolated, but did not grow on cellulose alone. Phenotypic and compositional analyses of enrichment cultures, such as those presented here, help link community composition with cellulolytic ability and provide insight into the complexity of community-based cellulose degradation.« less

  5. Dynamic extrafloral nectar production: the timing of leaf damage affects the defensive response in Senna mexicana var. chapmanii (Fabaceae).

    PubMed

    Jones, Ian M; Koptur, Suzanne

    2015-01-01

    • Extrafloral nectar (EFN) mediates food for protection mutualisms between plants and defensive insects. Understanding sources of variation in EFN production is important because such variations may affect the number and identity of visitors and the effectiveness of plant defense. We investigated the influence of plant developmental stage, time of day, leaf age, and leaf damage on EFN production in Senna mexicana var. chapmanii. The observed patterns of variation in EFN production were compared with those predicted by optimal defense theory.• Greenhouse experiments with potted plants were conducted to determine how plant age, time of day, and leaf damage affected EFN production. A subsequent field study was conducted to determine how leaf damage, and the resulting increase in EFN production, affected ant visitation in S. chapmanii.• More nectar was produced at night and by older plants. Leaf damage resulted in increased EFN production, and the magnitude of the response was greater in plants damaged in the morning than those damaged at night. Damage to young leaves elicited a stronger defensive response than damage to older leaves, in line with optimal defense theory. Damage to the leaves of S. chapmanii also resulted in significantly higher ant visitation in the field.• Extrafloral nectar is an inducible defense in S. chapmanii. Developmental variations in its production support the growth differentiation balance hypothesis, while within-plant variations and damage responses support optimal defense theory. © 2015 Botanical Society of America, Inc.

  6. Trail-marking substance of the Texas leaf-cutting ant: source and potency

    Treesearch

    John C. Moser; Murray S. Blum

    1963-01-01

    The trail-marking substance of Atta texana (Buckley) is formed in the true poison gland and deposited by the sting. This attractant is initially produced by teneral workers. The substance obtained from mature, large workers is the most potent.

  7. The Ants Go Marching Millions by Millions: Invasive Ant Research

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    Invasive ants are a worldwide problem that is expanding both geographically and in intensity. Population explosions of invasive ants can overrun landscapes and inundate structures. Pest management professionals are often the first responders to complaints about invading ants. This session will fo...

  8. The ants go marching millions by millions: invasive ant research

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    Invasive ants are a worldwide problem that is expanding both geographically and in intensity. Population explosions of invasive ants can overrun landscapes and inundate structures. Pest management professionals are often the first responders to complaints about invading ants. This session will fo...

  9. [Response of the ant community to attributes of fragments and vegetation in a northeastern Atlantic Rain Forest area, Brazil].

    PubMed

    Gomes, Juliana P; Iannuzzi, Luciana; Leal, Inara R

    2010-01-01

    The objective of this study was to determine the effects of forest fragmentation on ant richness in a landscape of Atlantic Forest in Northeast Brazil. More specifically, the ant richness was related to the attributes of fragments (area and distance from the fragment central point to the edge), landscape (forest cover surrounding the fragments), and tree community (plant density, richness, and percentage of shade tolerant species). The surveys were carried out in 19 fragments located in Alagoas State from October 2007 to March 2008. Samples were collected through a 300 m transect established in the center of each fragment, where 30 1-m² leaf litter samples were collected at 10 m intervals. A total of 146 ant species was collected, which belonged to 42 genera, 24 tribes and nine subfamilies. The attributes of fragments and landscape did not influence ant richness. On the other hand, tree density explained ca. 23% of ant richness. In relation to functional groups, both density and richness of trees explained the richness of general myrmicines (the whole model explained ca. 42% of the variation in this group) and percentage of shade tolerant trees explained the richness of specialist predator ants (30% for the whole model). These results indicate that ant fauna is more influenced by vegetation integrity than by fragment size, distance to edge or forest cover surrounding fragments.

  10. Morphology of ovary and spermathecae of the parasitoid Eibesfeldtphora tonhascai Brown (Diptera: Phoridae).

    PubMed

    Farder-Gomes, Cliver Fernandes; Santos, Helen Cristina Pinto; Oliveira, Marco Antonio; Zanuncio, José Cola; Serrão, José Eduardo

    2018-06-16

    Eibesfeldtphora tonhascai (Diptera: Phoridae) is a parasitoid of leaf-cutting ants and a potential biological control agent against these insect pests. This study describes the morphology of the ovary and spermatheca of E. tonhascai. The female reproductive tract of this parasitoid has a pair of meroistic polytrophic ovaries, two lateral oviducts that open into a common oviduct, an elongated accessory gland, and two spermathecae. Young oocytes are small and spherical, and their size increases as yolk is stored in the cytoplasm. This process is followed by chorion production by follicular cells. Mature oocytes are elliptical or torpedo-shaped. The reservoir wall of the spermatheca has type III glandular cells with cytoplasm rich in free ribosomes, rough endoplasmic reticulum, and secretory vesicles. The apical surface of these cells has microvilli associated with mitochondria. The reservoir lumen is lined by a cuticle and filled with spermatozoa. This is the first report of the ovary and spermatheca morphology of E. tonhascai and contributes to the comprehension of the reproductive biology of this parasitoid of leaf-cutting ants.

  11. An ants-eye view of an ant-plant protection mutualism

    PubMed Central

    Lanan, M. C.; Bronstein, J. L.

    2013-01-01

    Ant protection of extrafloral nectar-secreting plants (EFN plants) is a common form of mutualism found in most habitats around the world. However, very few studies have considered these mutualisms from the ant, rather than the plant, perspective. In particular, a whole-colony perspective that takes into account the spatial structure and nest arrangement of the ant colonies that visit these plants has been lacking, obscuring when and how colony-level foraging decisions might affect tending rates on individual plants. Here, we experimentally demonstrate that recruitment of Crematogaster opuntiae (Buren) ant workers to the extrafloral nectar-secreting cactus Ferocactus wislizeni (Englem) is not independent between plants up to 5m apart. Colony territories of C. opuntiae are large, covering areas of up to 5000m2, and workers visit between five and thirty-four extrafloral nectar-secreting barrel cacti within the territories. These ants are highly polydomous, with up to twenty nest entrances dispersed throughout the territory and interconnected by trail networks. Our study demonstrates that worker recruitment is not independent within large polydomous ant colonies, highlighting the importance of considering colonies rather than individual workers as the relevant study unit within ant/plant protection mutualisms PMID:23515612

  12. Anti-hyperglycemic effect and glucose tolerance of guajava (Psidium guajava L.) leaf ethanol extract in diabetic rats

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yanis Musdja, Muhammad; Mahendra, Feizar; Musir, Ahmad

    2017-12-01

    Traditionally guava (Psidium guajava L) leaf is used for treatment of various ailments like diarrhea, wounds, rheumatism, anti-allergy, ant-spasmodic, etc, as folk medicine. The aim of this research is to know the effect of hypoglycemia and glucose tolerance of ethanol extract of guava leaf against male white rat. The guajava leaf was obtained from Balitro Bogor. Preparation of guajava leaf extract was done by cold maceration extraction technique using ethanol 70%. Male albino rats were made into diabetics using the alloxan method. Rats were divided into 6 groups, as a comparative drug for anti-hyperglycemic used glibenclamid and as a comparative drug for glucose tolerance used acarbose. The result of blood glucometer test showed that ethanol extract 70% of guajava leaf had effect as anti-hyperglycemic and glucose tolerance with no significant difference with glibenclamid drug as anti-hyperglycemic and acarbose as glucose tolerance drug.

  13. Fire Ant Bites

    MedlinePlus

    ... Favorite Name: Category: Share: Yes No, Keep Private Fire Ant Bites Share | Fire ants are aggressive, venomous insects that have pinching ... across the United States, even into Puerto Rico. Fire ant stings usually occur on the feet or ...

  14. Orchid seed removal by ants in Neotropical ant-gardens.

    PubMed

    Morales-Linares, J; García-Franco, J G; Flores-Palacios, A; Valenzuela-González, J E; Mata-Rosas, M; Díaz-Castelazo, C

    2018-05-01

    Most plants that inhabit ant-gardens (AGs) are cultivated by the ants. Some orchids occur in AGs; however, it is not known whether their seeds are dispersed by AG ants because most orchid seeds are tiny and dispersed by wind. We performed in situ seed removal experiments, in which we simultaneously provided Azteca gnava ants with seeds of three AG orchid species and three other AG epiphyte species (Bromeliaceae, Cactaceae and Gesneriaceae), as well as the non-AG orchid Catasetum integerrimum. The seeds most removed were those of the bromeliad Aechmea tillandsioides and the gesneriad Codonanthe uleana, while seeds of AG orchids Coryanthes picturata, Epidendrum flexuosum and Epidendrum pachyrachis were less removed. The non-AG orchid was not removed. Removal values were positively correlated with the frequency of the AG epiphytes in the AGs, and seeds of AG orchids were larger than those of non-AG orchids, which should favour myrmecochory. Our data show that Azt. gnava ants discriminate and preferentially remove seeds of the AG epiphytes. We report for the first time the removal of AG orchid seeds by AG ants in Neotropical AGs. © 2018 German Society for Plant Sciences and The Royal Botanical Society of the Netherlands.

  15. Ant aggression and evolutionary stability in plant-ant and plant-pollinator mutualistic interactions.

    PubMed

    Oña, L; Lachmann, M

    2011-03-01

    Mutualistic partners derive a benefit from their interaction, but this benefit can come at a cost. This is the case for plant-ant and plant-pollinator mutualistic associations. In exchange for protection from herbivores provided by the resident ants, plants supply various kinds of resources or nests to the ants. Most ant-myrmecophyte mutualisms are horizontally transmitted, and therefore, partners share an interest in growth but not in reproduction. This lack of alignment in fitness interests between plants and ants drives a conflict between them: ants can attack pollinators that cross-fertilize the host plants. Using a mathematical model, we define a threshold in ant aggressiveness determining pollinator survival or elimination on the host plant. In our model we observed that, all else being equal, facultative interactions result in pollinator extinction for lower levels of ant aggressiveness than obligatory interactions. We propose that the capacity to discriminate pollinators from herbivores should not often evolve in ants, and when it does it will be when the plants exhibit limited dispersal in an environment that is not seed saturated so that each seed produced can effectively generate a new offspring or if ants acquire an extra benefit from pollination (e.g. if ants eat fruit). We suggest specific mutualism examples where these hypotheses can be tested empirically. © 2010 The Authors. Journal of Evolutionary Biology © 2010 European Society For Evolutionary Biology.

  16. Fire ants

    MedlinePlus

    ... a fire ant delivers a harmful substance, called venom, into your skin. This article is for information ... in the United States. Poisonous Ingredient Fire ant venom contains a chemical called piperidine. Where Found Fire ...

  17. Stinging ants.

    PubMed

    Rhoades, R

    2001-08-01

    Ants belong to the order Hymenoptera, along with bees, wasps, yellow jackets, etc., they are the most successful animal genera in this world. It is their selfless social structure which accounts for their huge impact. Their effect on man ranges from the parasol ant, which makes plant cultivation untenable in certain parts of South America, to Solenopsis Invicta in the southeastern United States of America, which kill ground dwelling birds and small animals, harass livestock, and renders farmland unusable. With the exception of the Bulldog Ant of Australia (which is the size of a medium cockroach) direct toxic effects are not a lethal threat to man. Human fatalities and morbidity are related to secondary infections of excoriated stings or allergic anaphylaxis. This article reviews history and recent developments regarding stinging ants around the world.

  18. Microorganisms transported by ants induce changes in floral nectar composition of an ant-pollinated plant.

    PubMed

    de Vega, Clara; Herrera, Carlos M

    2013-04-01

    Interactions between plants and ants abound in nature and have significant consequences for ecosystem functioning. Recently, it has been suggested that nectar-foraging ants transport microorganisms to flowers; more specifically, they transport yeasts, which can potentially consume sugars and alter nectar composition. Therefore, ants could indirectly change nectar sugar profile, an important floral feature involved in the plant-pollinator mutualism. But this novel role for ants has never been tested. We here investigate the effects of nectarivorous ants and their associated yeasts on the floral nectar sugar composition of an ant-pollinated plant. Differences in the nectar sugar composition of ant-excluded and ant-visited flowers were examined in 278 samples by using high-performance liquid-chromatography. The importance of the genetic identity and density of ant-transported basidiomycetous and ascomycetous yeasts on the variation of nectar traits was also evaluated. Ant visitation had significant effects on nectar sugar composition. The nectar of ant-visited flowers contained significantly more fructose, more glucose, and less sucrose than the nectar of ant-excluded flowers, but these effects were context dependent. Nectar changes were correlated with the density of yeast cells in nectar. The magnitude of the effects of ant-transported ascomycetes was much higher than that of basiodiomycetes. Ants and their associated yeasts induce changes in nectar sugar traits, reducing the chemical control of the plant over this important floral trait. The potential relevance of this new role for ants as indirect nectar modifiers is a rich topic for future research into the ecology of ant-flower interactions.

  19. Application research of CO2 laser cutting natural stone plates

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Ma, Lixiu; Song, Jijiang

    2009-08-01

    Now, the processing of natural stone plates is the high performance sawing machine primarily,many researchers deeply studied the processing characters in the sawing process and the strength characters during the processing. In order to realize the profiled-processing and pattern- carving of the natural stone, It lays a solid foundation for the laser cutting and the pattern-carving technology of natural stone plate. The working principle, type and characteristics of laser cutting are briefly described. The paper selects 6 kinds stone plates of natural taken as experimental sample,the experimental sample was China Shanxi Black, Old Spain Golden Yellow, New Spain Golden Yellow, Jazz White, Maple Leaf Red, Cream White respectively. Use high power CO2 laser cutting system,the stone plates cutting experiment of 6 kinds different hardness, the best working speed are obtained,The experimental results indicate that: The laser cutting speed has no correlation with the ingredient content of stone plate.

  20. The descent of ant: field-measured performance of gliding ants.

    PubMed

    Munk, Yonatan; Yanoviak, Stephen P; Koehl, M A R; Dudley, Robert

    2015-05-01

    Gliding ants avoid predatory attacks and potentially mortal consequences of dislodgement from rainforest canopy substrates by directing their aerial descent towards nearby tree trunks. The ecologically relevant measure of performance for gliding ants is the ratio of net horizontal to vertical distance traveled over the course of a gliding trajectory, or glide index. To study variation in glide index, we measured three-dimensional trajectories of Cephalotes atratus ants gliding in natural rainforest habitats. We determined that righting phase duration, glide angle, and path directness all significantly influence variation in glide index. Unsuccessful landing attempts result in the ant bouncing off its target and being forced to make a second landing attempt. Our results indicate that ants are not passive gliders and that they exert active control over the aerodynamic forces they experience during their descent, despite their apparent lack of specialized control surfaces. © 2015. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.

  1. Conflict resolution in an ant-plant interaction: Acacia constricta traits reduce ant costs to reproduction.

    PubMed

    Nicklen, E Fleur; Wagner, Diane

    2006-05-01

    Many plant species attract ants onto their foliage with food rewards or nesting space. However, ants can interfere with plant reproduction when they visit flowers. This study tests whether Acacia constricta separates visiting ant species temporally or spatially from newly opened inflorescences and pollinators. The diurnal activity patterns of ants and A. constricta pollinators peaked at different times of day, and the activity of pollinators followed the daily dehiscence of A. constricta inflorescences. In addition to being largely temporally separated, ants rarely visited open inflorescences. A floral ant repellent contributes to the spatial separation of ants and inflorescences. In a field experiment, ants of four species were given equal access to inflorescences in different developmental stages. On average, the frequency with which ants made initial, antennal contact with the floral stages did not differ, but ants significantly avoided secondary contact with newly opened inflorescences relative to buds and old inflorescences, and old inflorescences relative to buds. Ants also avoided contact with pollen alone, indicating that pollen is at least one source of the repellent. The results suggest A. constricta has effectively resolved the potential conflict between visiting ants and plant reproduction.

  2. Revealing catastrophic failure of leaf networks under stress

    PubMed Central

    Brodribb, Timothy J.; Bienaimé, Diane; Marmottant, Philippe

    2016-01-01

    The intricate patterns of veins that adorn the leaves of land plants are among the most important networks in biology. Water flows in these leaf irrigation networks under tension and is vulnerable to embolism-forming cavitations, which cut off water supply, ultimately causing leaf death. Understanding the ways in which plants structure their vein supply network to protect against embolism-induced failure has enormous ecological and evolutionary implications, but until now there has been no way of observing dynamic failure in natural leaf networks. Here we use a new optical method that allows the initiation and spread of embolism bubbles in the leaf network to be visualized. Examining embolism-induced failure of architecturally diverse leaf networks, we found that conservative rules described the progression of hydraulic failure within veins. The most fundamental rule was that within an individual venation network, susceptibility to embolism always increased proportionally with the size of veins, and initial nucleation always occurred in the largest vein. Beyond this general framework, considerable diversity in the pattern of network failure was found between species, related to differences in vein network topology. The highest-risk network was found in a fern species, where single events caused massive disruption to leaf water supply, whereas safer networks in angiosperm leaves contained veins with composite properties, allowing a staged failure of water supply. These results reveal how the size structure of leaf venation is a critical determinant of the spread of embolism damage to leaves during drought. PMID:27071104

  3. Revealing catastrophic failure of leaf networks under stress.

    PubMed

    Brodribb, Timothy J; Bienaimé, Diane; Marmottant, Philippe

    2016-04-26

    The intricate patterns of veins that adorn the leaves of land plants are among the most important networks in biology. Water flows in these leaf irrigation networks under tension and is vulnerable to embolism-forming cavitations, which cut off water supply, ultimately causing leaf death. Understanding the ways in which plants structure their vein supply network to protect against embolism-induced failure has enormous ecological and evolutionary implications, but until now there has been no way of observing dynamic failure in natural leaf networks. Here we use a new optical method that allows the initiation and spread of embolism bubbles in the leaf network to be visualized. Examining embolism-induced failure of architecturally diverse leaf networks, we found that conservative rules described the progression of hydraulic failure within veins. The most fundamental rule was that within an individual venation network, susceptibility to embolism always increased proportionally with the size of veins, and initial nucleation always occurred in the largest vein. Beyond this general framework, considerable diversity in the pattern of network failure was found between species, related to differences in vein network topology. The highest-risk network was found in a fern species, where single events caused massive disruption to leaf water supply, whereas safer networks in angiosperm leaves contained veins with composite properties, allowing a staged failure of water supply. These results reveal how the size structure of leaf venation is a critical determinant of the spread of embolism damage to leaves during drought.

  4. Diversity of the ground-dwelling ant fauna (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of a moist, Montane forest of the semi-arid Brazilian "Nordeste".

    PubMed

    Hites, N L; Mourão, M A N; Araújo, F O; Melo, M V C; de Biseau, J C; Quinet, Y

    2005-01-01

    Although the so called "green islands" of the semi-arid Brazilian "Nordeste" are economically, socially, and ecologically important. relatively little is known about their biodiversity. We present the results of the first survey of the ground-dwelling ant fauna of a secondary forest in the Serra de Baturité (4 degrees 05'-4 degrees 40' S / 38 degrees 30'-39 degrees 10' W), among the biggest of the moist, montane forests of the state of Ceará, Brazil. From February to March 2001, samples were taken every 50 m along twelve 200 m transects, each separated from the others by at least 50 m and cut on either side of a recreational trail. Where possible, two transects were cut from the same starting point on the trail, one on either side. At each sample site two methods were used, as recommended in the ALL. protocol: a pitfall trap and the treatment of 1 m2 of leaf litter with the Winkler extractor. The myrmecofauna of the Serra de Baturité is quite diverse: individuals from 72 species, 23 genera, and six subfamilies were collected. The observed patterns of specific richness show the same tendencies noted in other tropical regions, particularly the frequency of capture distribution with many rare and few abundant species. Differences with the Atlantic and Amazonian forests were also observed, especially the relative importance of the Ponerinac and Formicinae subfamilies, indicating a possible influence of the surrounding "caatinga" (savanna-like ecosystem) on the myrmecofauna of the moist, montane forest.

  5. A temporary social parasite of tropical plant-ants improves the fitness of a myrmecophyte

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dejean, Alain; Leroy, Céline; Corbara, Bruno; Céréghino, Régis; Roux, Olivier; Hérault, Bruno; Rossi, Vivien; Guerrero, Roberto J.; Delabie, Jacques H. C.; Orivel, Jérôme; Boulay, Raphaël

    2010-10-01

    Myrmecophytes offer plant-ants a nesting place in exchange for protection from their enemies, particularly defoliators. These obligate ant-plant mutualisms are common model systems for studying factors that allow horizontally transmitted mutualisms to persist since parasites of ant-myrmecophyte mutualisms exploit the rewards provided by host plants whilst providing no protection in return. In pioneer formations in French Guiana, Azteca alfari and Azteca ovaticeps are known to be mutualists of myrmecophytic Cecropia ( Cecropia ants). Here, we show that Azteca andreae, whose colonies build carton nests on myrmecophytic Cecropia, is not a parasite of Azteca- Cecropia mutualisms nor is it a temporary social parasite of A. alfari; it is, however, a temporary social parasite of A. ovaticeps. Contrarily to the two mutualistic Azteca species that are only occasional predators feeding mostly on hemipteran honeydew and food bodies provided by the host trees, A. andreae workers, which also attend hemipterans, do not exploit the food bodies. Rather, they employ an effective hunting technique where the leaf margins are fringed with ambushing workers, waiting for insects to alight. As a result, the host trees’ fitness is not affected as A. andreae colonies protect their foliage better than do mutualistic Azteca species resulting in greater fruit production. Yet, contrarily to mutualistic Azteca, when host tree development does not keep pace with colony growth, A. andreae workers forage on surrounding plants; the colonies can even move to a non- Cecropia tree.

  6. Harnessing ant defence at fruits reduces bruchid seed predation in a symbiotic ant-plant mutualism.

    PubMed

    Pringle, Elizabeth G

    2014-06-22

    In horizontally transmitted mutualisms, mutualists disperse separately and reassemble in each generation with partners genetically unrelated to those in the previous generation. Because of this, there should be no selection on either partner to enhance the other's reproductive output directly. In symbiotic ant-plant mutualisms, myrmecophytic plants host defensive ant colonies, and ants defend the plants from herbivores. Plants and ants disperse separately, and, although ant defence can indirectly increase plant reproduction by reducing folivory, it is unclear whether ants can also directly increase plant reproduction by defending seeds. The neotropical tree Cordia alliodora hosts colonies of Azteca pittieri ants. The trees produce domatia where ants nest at stem nodes and also at the node between the peduncle and the rachides of the infloresence. Unlike the stem domatia, these reproductive domatia senesce after the tree fruits each year. In this study, I show that the tree's resident ant colony moves into these ephemeral reproductive domatia, where they tend honeydew-producing scale insects and patrol the nearby developing fruits. The presence of ants significantly reduced pre-dispersal seed predation by Amblycerus bruchid beetles, thereby directly increasing plant reproductive output.

  7. Distributed nestmate recognition in ants.

    PubMed

    Esponda, Fernando; Gordon, Deborah M

    2015-05-07

    We propose a distributed model of nestmate recognition, analogous to the one used by the vertebrate immune system, in which colony response results from the diverse reactions of many ants. The model describes how individual behaviour produces colony response to non-nestmates. No single ant knows the odour identity of the colony. Instead, colony identity is defined collectively by all the ants in the colony. Each ant responds to the odour of other ants by reference to its own unique decision boundary, which is a result of its experience of encounters with other ants. Each ant thus recognizes a particular set of chemical profiles as being those of non-nestmates. This model predicts, as experimental results have shown, that the outcome of behavioural assays is likely to be variable, that it depends on the number of ants tested, that response to non-nestmates changes over time and that it changes in response to the experience of individual ants. A distributed system allows a colony to identify non-nestmates without requiring that all individuals have the same complete information and helps to facilitate the tracking of changes in cuticular hydrocarbon profiles, because only a subset of ants must respond to provide an adequate response.

  8. How Ants Drop Out: Ant Abundance on Tropical Mountains

    PubMed Central

    Longino, John T.; Branstetter, Michael G.; Colwell, Robert K.

    2014-01-01

    In tropical wet forests, ants are a large proportion of the animal biomass, but the factors determining abundance are not well understood. We characterized ant abundance in the litter layer of 41 mature wet forest sites spread throughout Central America (Chiapas, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica) and examined the impact of elevation (as a proxy for temperature) and community species richness. Sites were intentionally chosen to minimize variation in precipitation and seasonality. From sea level to 1500 m ant abundance very gradually declined, community richness declined more rapidly than abundance, and the local frequency of the locally most common species increased. These results suggest that within this elevational zone, density compensation is acting, maintaining high ant abundance as richness declines. In contrast, in sites above 1500 m, ant abundance dropped abruptly to much lower levels. Among these high montane sites, community richness explained much more of the variation in abundance than elevation, and there was no evidence of density compensation. The relative stability of abundance below 1500 m may be caused by opposing effects of temperature on productivity and metabolism. Lower temperatures may decrease productivity and thus the amount of food available for consumers, but slower metabolisms of consumers may allow maintenance of higher biomass at lower resource supply rates. Ant communities at these lower elevations may be highly interactive, the result of continuous habitat presence over geological time. High montane sites may be ephemeral in geological time, resulting in non-interactive communities dominated by historical and stochastic processes. Abundance in these sites may be determined by the number of species that manage to colonize and/or avoid extinction on mountaintops. PMID:25098722

  9. How ants drop out: ant abundance on tropical mountains.

    PubMed

    Longino, John T; Branstetter, Michael G; Colwell, Robert K

    2014-01-01

    In tropical wet forests, ants are a large proportion of the animal biomass, but the factors determining abundance are not well understood. We characterized ant abundance in the litter layer of 41 mature wet forest sites spread throughout Central America (Chiapas, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica) and examined the impact of elevation (as a proxy for temperature) and community species richness. Sites were intentionally chosen to minimize variation in precipitation and seasonality. From sea level to 1500 m ant abundance very gradually declined, community richness declined more rapidly than abundance, and the local frequency of the locally most common species increased. These results suggest that within this elevational zone, density compensation is acting, maintaining high ant abundance as richness declines. In contrast, in sites above 1500 m, ant abundance dropped abruptly to much lower levels. Among these high montane sites, community richness explained much more of the variation in abundance than elevation, and there was no evidence of density compensation. The relative stability of abundance below 1500 m may be caused by opposing effects of temperature on productivity and metabolism. Lower temperatures may decrease productivity and thus the amount of food available for consumers, but slower metabolisms of consumers may allow maintenance of higher biomass at lower resource supply rates. Ant communities at these lower elevations may be highly interactive, the result of continuous habitat presence over geological time. High montane sites may be ephemeral in geological time, resulting in non-interactive communities dominated by historical and stochastic processes. Abundance in these sites may be determined by the number of species that manage to colonize and/or avoid extinction on mountaintops.

  10. The potential of biomonitoring of air quality using leaf characteristics of white willow (Salix alba L.).

    PubMed

    Wuytack, Tatiana; Verheyen, Kris; Wuyts, Karen; Kardel, Fatemeh; Adriaenssens, Sandy; Samson, Roeland

    2010-12-01

    In this study, we assess the potential of white willow (Salix alba L.) as bioindicator for monitoring of air quality. Therefore, shoot biomass, specific leaf area, stomatal density, stomatal pore surface, and stomatal resistance were assessed from leaves of stem cuttings. The stem cuttings were introduced in two regions in Belgium with a relatively high and a relatively low level of air pollution, i.e., Antwerp city and Zoersel, respectively. In each of these regions, nine sampling points were selected. At each sampling point, three stem cuttings of white willow were planted in potting soil. Shoot biomass and specific leaf area were not significantly different between Antwerp city and Zoersel. Microclimatic differences between the sampling points may have been more important to plant growth than differences in air quality. However, stomatal pore surface and stomatal resistance of white willow were significantly different between Zoersel and Antwerp city. Stomatal pore surface was 20% lower in Antwerp city due to a significant reduction in both stomatal length (-11%) and stomatal width (-14%). Stomatal resistance at the adaxial leaf surface was 17% higher in Antwerp city because of the reduction in stomatal pore surface. Based on these results, we conclude that stomatal characteristics of white willow are potentially useful indicators for air quality.

  11. Nectar Theft and Floral Ant-Repellence: A Link between Nectar Volume and Ant-Repellent Traits?

    PubMed Central

    Ballantyne, Gavin; Willmer, Pat

    2012-01-01

    As flower visitors, ants rarely benefit a plant. They are poor pollinators, and can also disrupt pollination by deterring other flower visitors, or by stealing nectar. Some plant species therefore possess floral ant-repelling traits. But why do particular species have such traits when others do not? In a dry forest in Costa Rica, of 49 plant species around a third were ant-repellent at very close proximity to a common generalist ant species, usually via repellent pollen. Repellence was positively correlated with the presence of large nectar volumes. Repellent traits affected ant species differently, some influencing the behaviour of just a few species and others producing more generalised ant-repellence. Our results suggest that ant-repellent floral traits may often not be pleiotropic, but instead could have been selected for as a defence against ant thieves in plant species that invest in large volumes of nectar. This conclusion highlights to the importance of research into the cost of nectar production in future studies into ant-flower interactions. PMID:22952793

  12. Quantifying Ant Activity Using Vibration Measurements

    PubMed Central

    Oberst, Sebastian; Baro, Enrique Nava; Lai, Joseph C. S.; Evans, Theodore A.

    2014-01-01

    Ant behaviour is of great interest due to their sociality. Ant behaviour is typically observed visually, however there are many circumstances where visual observation is not possible. It may be possible to assess ant behaviour using vibration signals produced by their physical movement. We demonstrate through a series of bioassays with different stimuli that the level of activity of meat ants (Iridomyrmex purpureus) can be quantified using vibrations, corresponding to observations with video. We found that ants exposed to physical shaking produced the highest average vibration amplitudes followed by ants with stones to drag, then ants with neighbours, illuminated ants and ants in darkness. In addition, we devised a novel method based on wavelet decomposition to separate the vibration signal owing to the initial ant behaviour from the substrate response, which will allow signals recorded from different substrates to be compared directly. Our results indicate the potential to use vibration signals to classify some ant behaviours in situations where visual observation could be difficult. PMID:24658467

  13. Multitasking in a plant-ant interaction: how does Acacia myrtifolia manage both ants and pollinators?

    PubMed

    Martínez-Bauer, Angélica E; Martínez, Gerardo Cerón; Murphy, Daniel J; Burd, Martin

    2015-06-01

    Plant associations with protective ants are widespread among angiosperms, but carry the risk that ants will deter pollinators as well as herbivores. Such conflict, and adaptations to ameliorate or prevent the conflict, have been documented in African and neotropical acacias. Ant-acacia associations occur in Australia, but little is known of their ecology. Moreover, recent phylogenetic evidence indicates that Australian acacias are only distantly related to African and American acacias, providing an intercontinental natural experiment in the management of ant-pollinator conflict. We examined four populations of Acacia myrtifolia over a 400-km environmental gradient in southeastern Australia using ant and pollinator exclusion as well as direct observation of ants and pollinators to assess the potential for ant-pollinator conflict to affect seed set. Native bees were the only group of floral visitors whose visitation rates were a significant predictor of fruiting success, although beetles and wasps may play an important role as "insurance" pollinators. We found no increase in pollinator visitation or fruiting success following ant exclusion, even with large sample sizes and effective exclusion. Because ants are facultative visitors to A. myrtifolia plants, their presence may be insufficient to interfere greatly with floral visitors. It is also likely that the morphological location of extrafloral nectaries tends to draw ants away from reproductive parts, although we commonly observed ants on inflorescences, so the spatial separation is not strict. A. myrtifolia appears to maintain a generalized mutualism over a wide geographic range without the need for elaborate adaptations to resolve ant-pollinator conflict.

  14. Plants in Your Ants: Using Ant Mounds to Test Basic Ecological Principles

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Zettler, Jennifer A.; Collier, Alexander; Leidersdorf, Bil; Sanou, Missa Patrick

    2010-01-01

    Urban students often have limited access to field sites for ecological studies. Ubiquitous ants and their mounds can be used to study and test ecology-based questions. We describe how soil collected from ant mounds can be used to investigate how biotic factors (ants) can affect abiotic factors in the soil that can, in turn, influence plant growth.

  15. The devil to pay: a cost of mutualism with Myrmelachista schumanni ants in 'devil's gardens' is increased herbivory on Duroia hirsuta trees.

    PubMed

    Frederickson, Megan E; Gordon, Deborah M

    2007-04-22

    'Devil's gardens' are nearly pure stands of the myrmecophyte, Duroia hirsuta, that occur in Amazonian rainforests. Devil's gardens are created by Myrmelachista schumanni ants, which nest in D. hirsuta trees and kill other plants using formic acid as an herbicide. Here, we show that this ant-plant mutualism has an associated cost; by making devil's gardens, M. schumanni increases herbivory on D. hirsuta. We measured standing leaf herbivory on D. hirsuta trees and found that they sustain higher herbivory inside than outside devil's gardens. We also measured the rate of herbivory on nursery-grown D. hirsuta saplings planted inside and outside devil's gardens in ant-exclusion and control treatments. We found that when we excluded ants, herbivory on D. hirsuta was higher inside than outside devil's gardens. These results suggest that devil's gardens are a concentrated resource for herbivores. Myrmelachista schumanni workers defend D. hirsuta against herbivores, but do not fully counterbalance the high herbivore pressure in devil's gardens. We suggest that high herbivory may limit the spread of devil's gardens, possibly explaining why devil's gardens do not overrun Amazonian rainforests.

  16. Fire ant microsporidia acquired by parasitoid flies of fire ants

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    The microsporidium Kneallhazia (formerly Thelohania) solenopsae and parasitoid flies in the genus Pseudacteon are natural enemies of the invasive fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Pseudacteon flies oviposit into adult fire ants, where maggots that eclose from eggs migrate to the ants’ head, pupate, and...

  17. Simplified methods for screening cowpea cultivars for manganese leaf-tissue tolerance. [Vigna unguiculata

    SciTech Connect

    Wissemeier, A.H.; Horst, W.J.

    In cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.) dark brown speckles on old leaves are typical symptoms of Mn toxicity and indicate Mn sensitivity of leaf tissue. Induction and subsequent quantification of brown Mn speckles in leaf tissues were used to screen cowpea cultivars for Mn leaf-tissue tolerance using three different techniques: (i) leaf cuttings cultured for 22 days in solution culture with 20 {mu}M MnSO{sub 4}, (ii) leaf rings mounted on leaves of intact plants and filled with 500 {mu}M MnSO{sub 4} for 5 days, and (iii) leaf disks floated for 3 days on 500 {mu}M MnSO{sub 4}. Density of brownmore » speckles differed considerably among the six cultivars tested, and was not related to the Mn concentrations of the leaf tissues. There were close relationships between genotypic Mn-toxicity symptom expression and depression of dry matter production of the cultivars at high Mn supply in a long-term sand culture experiment. The floating leaf-disk method is particularly suited for screening large numbers of cowpea cultivars for Mn leaf-tissue tolerance because it requires only 3 days. The ranking of the cultivars for Mn tolerance was highly correlated to Mn tolerance of intact plants.« less

  18. Rationality in collective decision-making by ant colonies

    PubMed Central

    Edwards, Susan C.; Pratt, Stephen C.

    2009-01-01

    Economic models of animal behaviour assume that decision-makers are rational, meaning that they assess options according to intrinsic fitness value and not by comparison with available alternatives. This expectation is frequently violated, but the significance of irrational behaviour remains controversial. One possibility is that irrationality arises from cognitive constraints that necessitate short cuts like comparative evaluation. If so, the study of whether and when irrationality occurs can illuminate cognitive mechanisms. We applied this logic in a novel setting: the collective decisions of insect societies. We tested for irrationality in colonies of Temnothorax ants choosing between two nest sites that varied in multiple attributes, such that neither site was clearly superior. In similar situations, individual animals show irrational changes in preference when a third relatively unattractive option is introduced. In contrast, we found no such effect in colonies. We suggest that immunity to irrationality in this case may result from the ants’ decentralized decision mechanism. A colony's choice does not depend on site comparison by individuals, but instead self-organizes from the interactions of multiple ants, most of which are aware of only a single site. This strategy may filter out comparative effects, preventing systematic errors that would otherwise arise from the cognitive limitations of individuals. PMID:19625319

  19. Detection of mitochondrial COII DNA sequences in ant guts as a method for assessing termite predation by ants.

    PubMed

    Fayle, Tom M; Scholtz, Olivia; Dumbrell, Alex J; Russell, Stephen; Segar, Simon T; Eggleton, Paul

    2015-01-01

    Termites and ants contribute more to animal biomass in tropical rain forests than any other single group and perform vital ecosystem functions. Although ants prey on termites, at the community level the linkage between these groups is poorly understood. Thus, assessing the distribution and specificity of ant termitophagy is of considerable interest. We describe an approach for quantifying ant-termite food webs by sequencing termite DNA (cytochrome c oxidase subunit II, COII) from ant guts and apply this to a soil-dwelling ant community from tropical rain forest in Gabon. We extracted DNA from 215 ants from 15 species. Of these, 17.2 % of individuals had termite DNA in their guts, with BLAST analysis confirming the identity of 34.1 % of these termites to family level or better. Although ant species varied in detection of termite DNA, ranging from 63 % (5/7; Camponotus sp. 1) to 0 % (0/7; Ponera sp. 1), there was no evidence (with small sample sizes) for heterogeneity in termite consumption across ant taxa, and no evidence for species-specific ant-termite predation. In all three ant species with identifiable termite DNA in multiple individuals, multiple termite species were represented. Furthermore, the two termite species that were detected on multiple occasions in ant guts were in both cases found in multiple ant species, suggesting that ant-termite food webs are not strongly compartmentalised. However, two ant species were found to consume only Anoplotermes-group termites, indicating possible predatory specialisation at a higher taxonomic level. Using a laboratory feeding test, we were able to detect termite COII sequences in ant guts up to 2 h after feeding, indicating that our method only detects recent feeding events. Our data provide tentative support for the hypothesis that unspecialised termite predation by ants is widespread and highlight the use of molecular approaches for future studies of ant-termite food webs.

  20. Reciprocal genomic evolution in the ant–fungus agricultural symbiosis

    PubMed Central

    Nygaard, Sanne; Hu, Haofu; Li, Cai; Schiøtt, Morten; Chen, Zhensheng; Yang, Zhikai; Xie, Qiaolin; Ma, Chunyu; Deng, Yuan; Dikow, Rebecca B.; Rabeling, Christian; Nash, David R.; Wcislo, William T.; Brady, Seán G.; Schultz, Ted R.; Zhang, Guojie; Boomsma, Jacobus J.

    2016-01-01

    The attine ant–fungus agricultural symbiosis evolved over tens of millions of years, producing complex societies with industrial-scale farming analogous to that of humans. Here we document reciprocal shifts in the genomes and transcriptomes of seven fungus-farming ant species and their fungal cultivars. We show that ant subsistence farming probably originated in the early Tertiary (55–60 MYA), followed by further transitions to the farming of fully domesticated cultivars and leaf-cutting, both arising earlier than previously estimated. Evolutionary modifications in the ants include unprecedented rates of genome-wide structural rearrangement, early loss of arginine biosynthesis and positive selection on chitinase pathways. Modifications of fungal cultivars include loss of a key ligninase domain, changes in chitin synthesis and a reduction in carbohydrate-degrading enzymes as the ants gradually transitioned to functional herbivory. In contrast to human farming, increasing dependence on a single cultivar lineage appears to have been essential to the origin of industrial-scale ant agriculture. PMID:27436133

  1. Selective isolation of dematiaceous fungi from the workers of Atta laevigata (Formicidae: Attini).

    PubMed

    Guedes, F L A; Attili-Angelis, D; Pagnocca, F C

    2012-01-01

    Leaf-cutting ants (Formicidae: Attini) are considered pests in agriculture for their impact in human crops, as they utilize leaf fragments to raise their fungal mutualist (Agaricales: Lepiotaceae). Basically, the basidiomycetous fungus is cultivated to supply food to adult workers and broads; in return, the ants protect it against natural enemies. However, recent studies have claimed that other microorganisms are associated to ant nests where a wide range of interactions may take place. To investigate the occurrence of dematiaceous fungi on the cuticle of Atta laevigata ants, 30 workers were sampled from an adult nest located in the surroundings of the Center for the Studies of Social Insects, UNESP-Rio Claro, SP, Brazil. The use of selective techniques to avoid high-sporulation fungi has been recommended and was tested in this study. To favor the isolation of the desired fungi, heads and cuticle scrapings of ant bodies were inoculated on Mycosel agar and incubated for 3 weeks at 35°C. Morphological and molecular methods were used to identify the filamentous fungi recovered. From 56 isolates, 19 were hyaline filamentous species, and among the remaining 37, some are mentioned as phyto-associated fungi like Alternaria arborescens, Bipolaris sorokiniana, Bipolaris eleusines, Bipolaris zeae, Curvularia trifolii, and Paraphaeosphaeria michotii. These species are reported from A. laevigata bodies for the first time. None of the isolation trials revealed the presence of the parasite Escovopsis or entomopathogenic fungi. The possible spread of the fungi in nature by the ants is discussed.

  2. Dynamics of an ant-plant-pollinator model

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Wang, Yuanshi; DeAngelis, Donald L.; Nathaniel Holland, J.

    2015-03-01

    In this paper, we consider plant-pollinator-ant systems in which plant-pollinator interaction and plant-ant interaction are both mutualistic, but there also exists interference of pollinators by ants. The plant-pollinator interaction can be described by a Beddington-DeAngelis formula, so we extend the formula to characterize plant-pollinator mutualisms, including the interference by ants, and form a plant-pollinator-ant model. Using dynamical systems theory, we show uniform persistence of the model. Moreover, we demonstrate conditions under which boundary equilibria are globally asymptotically stable. The dynamics exhibit mechanisms by which the three species could coexist when ants interfere with pollinators. We define a threshold in ant interference. When ant interference is strong, it can drive plant-pollinator mutualisms to extinction. Furthermore, if the ants depend on pollination mutualism for their persistence, then sufficiently strong ant interference could lead to their own extinction as well. Yet, when ant interference is weak, plant-ant and plant-pollinator mutualisms can promote the persistence of one another.

  3. Ants in Space

    NASA Image and Video Library

    2014-01-12

    ISS038-E-029062 (12 Jan. 2014) --- In the International Space Station's Destiny laboratory, NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, Expedition 38 flight engineer, uses a video camera to photograph the Ant Forage Habitat Facility which will study ant behavior and colonization in microgravity.

  4. Ants in Space

    NASA Image and Video Library

    2014-01-12

    ISS038-E-029077 (12 Jan. 2014) --- In the International Space Station's Harmony node, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, Expedition 38 flight engineer, uses a video camera to photograph the Ant Forage Habitat Facility which will study ant behavior and colonization in microgravity.

  5. Ants in Space

    NASA Image and Video Library

    2014-01-12

    ISS038-E-029065 (12 Jan. 2014) --- In the International Space Station's Destiny laboratory, NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, Expedition 38 flight engineer, uses a video camera to photograph the Ant Forage Habitat Facility which will study ant behavior and colonization in microgravity.

  6. Ants in Space

    NASA Image and Video Library

    2014-01-12

    ISS038-E-029059 (12 Jan. 2014) --- In the International Space Station's Destiny laboratory, NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, Expedition 38 flight engineer, uses a video camera to photograph the Ant Forage Habitat Facility which will study ant behavior and colonization in microgravity.

  7. Ant-lepidopteran associations along African forest edges

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Dejean, Alain; Azémar, Frédéric; Libert, Michel; Compin, Arthur; Hérault, Bruno; Orivel, Jérôme; Bouyer, Thierry; Corbara, Bruno

    2017-02-01

    Working along forest edges, we aimed to determine how some caterpillars can co-exist with territorially dominant arboreal ants (TDAAs) in tropical Africa. We recorded caterpillars from 22 lepidopteran species living in the presence of five TDAA species. Among the defoliator and/or nectarivorous caterpillars that live on tree foliage, the Pyralidae and Nymphalidae use their silk to protect themselves from ant attacks. The Notodontidae and lycaenid Polyommatinae and Theclinae live in direct contact with ants; the Theclinae even reward ants with abundant secretions from their Newcomer gland. Lichen feeders (lycaenid; Poritiinae), protected by long bristles, also live among ants. Some lycaenid Miletinae caterpillars feed on ant-attended membracids, including in the shelters where the ants attend them; Lachnocnema caterpillars use their forelegs to obtain trophallaxis from their host ants. Caterpillars from other species live inside weaver ant nests. Those of the genus Euliphyra (Miletinae) feed on ant prey and brood and can obtain trophallaxis, while those from an Eberidae species only prey on host ant eggs. Eublemma albifascia (Erebidae) caterpillars use their thoracic legs to obtain trophallaxis and trophic eggs from ants. Through transfer bioassays of last instars, we noted that herbivorous caterpillars living in contact with ants were always accepted by alien conspecific ants; this is likely due to an intrinsic appeasing odor. Yet, caterpillars living in ant shelters or ant nests probably acquire cues from their host colonies because they were considered aliens and killed. We conclude that co-evolution with ants occurred similarly in the Heterocera and Rhopalocera.

  8. Ants in Space

    NASA Image and Video Library

    2014-01-13

    ISS038-E-029106 (12 Jan. 2014) --- The Ant Forage Habitat Facility is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 38 crew member on the International Space Station. The study examines the behavior of ants by comparing groups living on Earth to those in space.

  9. Ants in Space

    NASA Image and Video Library

    2014-01-13

    ISS038-E-029133 (12 Jan. 2014) --- The Ant Forage Habitat Facility is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 38 crew member on the International Space Station. The study examines the behavior of ants by comparing groups living on Earth to those in space.

  10. Ants in Space

    NASA Image and Video Library

    2014-01-14

    ISS038-E-029161 (12 Jan. 2014) --- The Ant Forage Habitat Facility is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 38 crew member on the International Space Station. The study examines the behavior of ants by comparing groups living on Earth to those in space.

  11. Dead ant walking: a myrmecophilous beetle predator uses parasitoid host location cues to selectively prey on parasitized ants.

    PubMed

    Mathis, Kaitlyn A; Tsutsui, Neil D

    2016-08-17

    Myrmecophiles (i.e. organisms that associate with ants) use a variety of ecological niches and employ different strategies to survive encounters with ants. Because ants are typically excellent defenders, myrmecophiles may choose moments of weakness to take advantage of their ant associates. This hypothesis was studied in the rove beetle, Myrmedonota xipe, which associates with Azteca sericeasur ants in the presence of parasitoid flies. A combination of laboratory and field experiments show that M. xipe beetles selectively locate and prey upon parasitized ants. These parasitized ants are less aggressive towards beetles than healthy ants, allowing beetles to eat the parasitized ants alive without interruption. Moreover, behavioural assays and chemical analysis reveal that M. xipe are attracted to the ant's alarm pheromone, the same secretion used by the phorid fly parasitoids in host location. This strategy allows beetles access to an abundant but otherwise inaccessible resource, as A. sericeasur ants are typically highly aggressive. These results are the first, to our knowledge, to demonstrate a predator sharing cues with a parasitoid to gain access to an otherwise unavailable prey item. Furthermore, this work highlights the importance of studying ant-myrmecophile interactions beyond just their pairwise context. © 2016 The Author(s).

  12. Dead ant walking: a myrmecophilous beetle predator uses parasitoid host location cues to selectively prey on parasitized ants

    PubMed Central

    2016-01-01

    Myrmecophiles (i.e. organisms that associate with ants) use a variety of ecological niches and employ different strategies to survive encounters with ants. Because ants are typically excellent defenders, myrmecophiles may choose moments of weakness to take advantage of their ant associates. This hypothesis was studied in the rove beetle, Myrmedonota xipe, which associates with Azteca sericeasur ants in the presence of parasitoid flies. A combination of laboratory and field experiments show that M. xipe beetles selectively locate and prey upon parasitized ants. These parasitized ants are less aggressive towards beetles than healthy ants, allowing beetles to eat the parasitized ants alive without interruption. Moreover, behavioural assays and chemical analysis reveal that M. xipe are attracted to the ant's alarm pheromone, the same secretion used by the phorid fly parasitoids in host location. This strategy allows beetles access to an abundant but otherwise inaccessible resource, as A. sericeasur ants are typically highly aggressive. These results are the first, to our knowledge, to demonstrate a predator sharing cues with a parasitoid to gain access to an otherwise unavailable prey item. Furthermore, this work highlights the importance of studying ant–myrmecophile interactions beyond just their pairwise context. PMID:27512148

  13. Parachuting behavior and predation by ants in the nettle caterpillar, Scopelodes contracta.

    PubMed

    Yamazaki, Kazuo

    2010-01-01

    This paper documents the bizarre descending behavior from the tree crown to the ground of the larvae of the moth, Scopelodes contracta Walker (Lepidoptera: Limacodidae) and the interaction of the larva with predatory ants. S. contracta larvae infest leaves of many tree species in urban areas and orchards in Japan. Mature larvae and leaves without basal leaf parts were found under trees of four species infested with S. contracta larvae in Osaka, Japan. Individual larvae riding on leaves were observed falling from tree crowns to the ground. Many S. contracta cocoons were found in the soil below the trees two weeks after the observed parachuting. These observations indicate that S. contracta larvae parachuted to the ground where they spin their cocoons in the soil. When a larva that had just parachuted down was returned to an arboreal twig, the larva repeated the parachuting behavior. This parachuting behavior appears to be adaptive, because larvae can descend to the ground safely and with low energy cost. Worker ants of Tetramorium tsushimae Emery (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and Pristomyrmex punctatus Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) occasionally attacked larvae on the ground before they had a chance to burrow in the soil.

  14. Ants: the supreme soil manipulators

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    This review focuses on the semiochemical interactions between ants and their soil environment. Ants occupy virtually every ecological niche and have evolved mechanisms to not just cope with, but also manipulate soil organisms. The metapleural gland, specific to ants was thought to be the major sourc...

  15. A Breath of Fresh Air in Foraging Theory: The Importance of Wind for Food Size Selection in a Central-Place Forager.

    PubMed

    Alma, Andrea Marina; Farji-Brener, Alejandro G; Elizalde, Luciana

    2017-09-01

    Empirical data about food size carried by central-place foragers do not often fit with the optimum predicted by classical foraging theory. Traditionally, biotic constraints such as predation risk and competition have been proposed to explain this inconsistency, leaving aside the possible role of abiotic factors. Here we documented how wind affects the load size of a central-place forager (leaf-cutting ants) through a mathematical model including the whole foraging process. The model showed that as wind speed at ground level increased from 0 to 2 km/h, load size decreased from 91 to 30 mm 2 , a prediction that agreed with empirical data from windy zones, highlighting the relevance of considering abiotic factors to predict foraging behavior. Furthermore, wind reduced the range of load sizes that workers should select to maintain a similar rate of food intake and decreased the foraging rate by ∼70% when wind speed increased 1 km/h. These results suggest that wind could reduce the fitness of colonies and limit the geographic distribution of leaf-cutting ants. The developed model offers a complementary explanation for why load size in central-place foragers may not fit theoretical predictions and could serve as a basis to study the effects of other abiotic factors that influence foraging.

  16. Biology and management of sugarcane yellow leaf virus: an historical overview.

    PubMed

    ElSayed, Abdelaleim Ismail; Komor, Ewald; Boulila, Moncef; Viswanathan, Rasappa; Odero, Dennis C

    2015-12-01

    Sugarcane yellow leaf virus (SCYLV) is one of the most widespread viruses causing disease in sugarcane worldwide. The virus has been responsible for drastic economic losses in most sugarcane-growing regions and remains a major concern for sugarcane breeders. Infection with SCYLV results in intense yellowing of the midrib, which extends to the leaf blade, followed by tissue necrosis from the leaf tip towards the leaf base. Such symptomatic leaves are usually characterized by increased respiration, reduced photosynthesis, a change in the ratio of hexose to sucrose, and an increase in starch content. SCYLV infection affects carbon assimilation and metabolism in sugarcane, resulting in stunted plants in severe cases. SCYLV is mainly propagated by planting cuttings from infected stalks. Phylogenetic analysis has confirmed the worldwide distribution of at least eight SCYLV genotypes (BRA, CHN1, CHN3, CUB, HAW, IND, PER, and REU). Evidence of recombination has been found in the SCYLV genome, which contains potential recombination signals in ORF1/2 and ORF5. This shows that recombination plays an important role in the evolution of SCYLV.

  17. Odorous House Ants (Tapinoma sessile) as Back-Seat Drivers of Localized Ant Decline in Urban Habitats

    PubMed Central

    Salyer, Adam; Bennett, Gary W.; Buczkowski, Grzegorz A.

    2014-01-01

    Invasive species and habitat disturbance threaten biodiversity worldwide by modifying ecosystem performance and displacing native organisms. Similar homogenization impacts manifest locally when urbanization forces native species to relocate or reinvade perpetually altered habitat. This study investigated correlations between ant richness and abundance in response to urbanization and the nearby presence of invasive ant species, odorous house ants (Tapinoma sessile), within its native region. Surveying localized ant composition within natural, semi-natural, and urban habitat supported efforts to determine whether T. sessile appear to be primary (drivers) threats as instigators or secondary (passengers) threats as inheritors of indigenous ant decline. Sampling 180 sites, evenly split between all habitats with and without T. sessile present, yielded 45 total species. Although urbanization and T. sessile presence factors were significantly linked to ant decline, their interaction correlated to the greatest reduction of total ant richness (74%) and abundance (81%). Total richness appeared to decrease from 27 species to 18 when natural habitat is urbanized and from 18 species to 7 with T. sessile present in urban plots. Odorous house ant presence minimally influenced ant communities within natural and semi-natural habitat, highlighting the importance of habitat alteration and T. sessile presence interactions. Results suggest urbanization releases T. sessile from unknown constraints by decreasing ant richness and competition. Within urban environment, T. sessile are pre-adapted to quickly exploit new resources and grow to supercolony strength wherein T. sessile drive adjacent biodiversity loss. Odorous house ants act as passengers and drivers of ecological change throughout different phases of urban ‘invasion’. This progression through surviving habitat alteration, exploiting new resources, thriving, and further reducing interspecific competition supports a

  18. Ecophysiology and growth of advance red spruce and balsam fir regeneration after partial cutting in yellow birch-conifer stands.

    PubMed

    Dumais, Daniel; Prévost, Marcel

    2008-08-01

    We investigated ecophysiological and growth responses of short (0.4 to 1.3 m in height) advance regeneration of red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) and balsam fir (Abies balsamea L.) six years after removal of 0, 40, 50, 60 and 100% of the overstory basal area (BA) in two yellow birch-conifer stands. Partial cuts significantly increased stomatal conductance of red spruce only. Light-saturated photosynthesis (leaf-area basis) of both species increased with BA removal, but unlike red spruce, specific leaf area (SLA) of balsam fir decreased with increased cutting intensity. Partial cuts appreciably increased the concentration of N and Ca in red spruce and balsam fir foliage, respectively, and resulted in decreased foliar concentrations of K in red spruce and Mg in balsam fir. The height and lateral growth of both species increased with BA removal, although partial cuts were more beneficial to balsam fir. The data suggest that short advance regeneration of red spruce and balsam fir can coexist under partial overstory conditions, but balsam fir has physiological characteristics and a capacity for morphological adjustment (SLA) that places it at an advantage when in competition with red spruce.

  19. BIG LEAF is a regulator of organ size and adventitious root formation in poplar

    SciTech Connect

    Yordanov, Yordan S.; Ma, Cathleen; Yordanova, Elena

    Here we report the discovery through activation tagging and subsequent characterization of the BIG LEAF (BL) gene from poplar. In poplar, BL regulates leaf size via positively affecting cell proliferation. Up and downregulation of the gene led to increased and decreased leaf size, respectively, and these phenotypes corresponded to increased and decreased cell numbers. BL function encompasses the early stages of leaf development as native BL expression was specific to the shoot apical meristem and leaf primordia and was absent from the later stages of leaf development and other organs. Consistently, BL downregulation reduced leaf size at the earliest stagesmore » of leaf development. Ectopic expression in mature leaves resulted in continued growth most probably via sustained cell proliferation and thus the increased leaf size. In contrast to the positive effect on leaf growth, ectopic BL expression in stems interfered with and significantly reduced stem thickening, suggesting that BL is a highly specific activator of growth. Additionally, stem cuttings from BL overexpressing plants developed roots, whereas the wild type was difficult to root, demonstrating that BL is a positive regulator of adventitious rooting. Large transcriptomic changes in plants that overexpressed BL indicated that BL may have a broad integrative role, encompassing many genes linked to organ growth. Here, we conclude that BL plays a fundamental role in control of leaf size and thus may be a useful tool for modifying plant biomass productivity and adventitious rooting.« less

  20. BIG LEAF is a regulator of organ size and adventitious root formation in poplar

    PubMed Central

    Yordanov, Yordan S.; Ma, Cathleen; Yordanova, Elena; Meilan, Richard; Strauss, Steven H.; Busov, Victor B.

    2017-01-01

    Here we report the discovery through activation tagging and subsequent characterization of the BIG LEAF (BL) gene from poplar. In poplar, BL regulates leaf size via positively affecting cell proliferation. Up and downregulation of the gene led to increased and decreased leaf size, respectively, and these phenotypes corresponded to increased and decreased cell numbers. BL function encompasses the early stages of leaf development as native BL expression was specific to the shoot apical meristem and leaf primordia and was absent from the later stages of leaf development and other organs. Consistently, BL downregulation reduced leaf size at the earliest stages of leaf development. Ectopic expression in mature leaves resulted in continued growth most probably via sustained cell proliferation and thus the increased leaf size. In contrast to the positive effect on leaf growth, ectopic BL expression in stems interfered with and significantly reduced stem thickening, suggesting that BL is a highly specific activator of growth. In addition, stem cuttings from BL overexpressing plants developed roots, whereas the wild type was difficult to root, demonstrating that BL is a positive regulator of adventitious rooting. Large transcriptomic changes in plants that overexpressed BL indicated that BL may have a broad integrative role, encompassing many genes linked to organ growth. We conclude that BL plays a fundamental role in control of leaf size and thus may be a useful tool for modifying plant biomass productivity and adventitious rooting. PMID:28686626

  1. BIG LEAF is a regulator of organ size and adventitious root formation in poplar.

    PubMed

    Yordanov, Yordan S; Ma, Cathleen; Yordanova, Elena; Meilan, Richard; Strauss, Steven H; Busov, Victor B

    2017-01-01

    Here we report the discovery through activation tagging and subsequent characterization of the BIG LEAF (BL) gene from poplar. In poplar, BL regulates leaf size via positively affecting cell proliferation. Up and downregulation of the gene led to increased and decreased leaf size, respectively, and these phenotypes corresponded to increased and decreased cell numbers. BL function encompasses the early stages of leaf development as native BL expression was specific to the shoot apical meristem and leaf primordia and was absent from the later stages of leaf development and other organs. Consistently, BL downregulation reduced leaf size at the earliest stages of leaf development. Ectopic expression in mature leaves resulted in continued growth most probably via sustained cell proliferation and thus the increased leaf size. In contrast to the positive effect on leaf growth, ectopic BL expression in stems interfered with and significantly reduced stem thickening, suggesting that BL is a highly specific activator of growth. In addition, stem cuttings from BL overexpressing plants developed roots, whereas the wild type was difficult to root, demonstrating that BL is a positive regulator of adventitious rooting. Large transcriptomic changes in plants that overexpressed BL indicated that BL may have a broad integrative role, encompassing many genes linked to organ growth. We conclude that BL plays a fundamental role in control of leaf size and thus may be a useful tool for modifying plant biomass productivity and adventitious rooting.

  2. BIG LEAF is a regulator of organ size and adventitious root formation in poplar

    DOE PAGES

    Yordanov, Yordan S.; Ma, Cathleen; Yordanova, Elena; ...

    2017-07-07

    Here we report the discovery through activation tagging and subsequent characterization of the BIG LEAF (BL) gene from poplar. In poplar, BL regulates leaf size via positively affecting cell proliferation. Up and downregulation of the gene led to increased and decreased leaf size, respectively, and these phenotypes corresponded to increased and decreased cell numbers. BL function encompasses the early stages of leaf development as native BL expression was specific to the shoot apical meristem and leaf primordia and was absent from the later stages of leaf development and other organs. Consistently, BL downregulation reduced leaf size at the earliest stagesmore » of leaf development. Ectopic expression in mature leaves resulted in continued growth most probably via sustained cell proliferation and thus the increased leaf size. In contrast to the positive effect on leaf growth, ectopic BL expression in stems interfered with and significantly reduced stem thickening, suggesting that BL is a highly specific activator of growth. Additionally, stem cuttings from BL overexpressing plants developed roots, whereas the wild type was difficult to root, demonstrating that BL is a positive regulator of adventitious rooting. Large transcriptomic changes in plants that overexpressed BL indicated that BL may have a broad integrative role, encompassing many genes linked to organ growth. Here, we conclude that BL plays a fundamental role in control of leaf size and thus may be a useful tool for modifying plant biomass productivity and adventitious rooting.« less

  3. Imported fire ants in the southeast

    Treesearch

    David F. Williams

    1998-01-01

    Two species of imported fire ants were introduced into the U.S. at Mobile, Alabama. The black imported fire ant, Solenopsis richteri Forel, was introduced around the early 1900's while the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren entered in the late 1930' or early 1940's. The red imported fire ant is the most...

  4. Ant-Plant Interaction in a Tropical Savanna: May the Network Structure Vary over Time and Influence on the Outcomes of Associations?

    PubMed Central

    Lange, Denise; Del-Claro, Kleber

    2014-01-01

    Plant-animal interactions occur in a community context of dynamic and complex ecological interactive networks. The understanding of who interacts with whom is a basic information, but the outcomes of interactions among associates are fundamental to draw valid conclusions about the functional structure of the network. Ecological networks studies in general gave little importance to know the true outcomes of interactions and how they may change over time. We evaluate the dynamic of an interaction network between ants and plants with extrafloral nectaries, by verifying the temporal variation in structure and outcomes of mutualism for the plant community (leaf herbivory). To reach this goal, we used two tools: bipartite network analysis and experimental manipulation. The networks exhibited the same general pattern as other mutualistic networks: nestedness, asymmetry and low specialization and this pattern was maintained over time, but with internal changes (species degree, connectance and ant abundance). These changes influenced the protection effectiveness of plants by ants, which varied over time. Our study shows that interaction networks between ants and plants are dynamic over time, and that these alterations affect the outcomes of mutualisms. In addition, our study proposes that the set of single systems that shape ecological networks can be manipulated for a greater understanding of the entire system. PMID:25141007

  5. Roadside Survey of Ants on Oahu, Hawaii

    PubMed Central

    Tong, Reina L.; Grace, J. Kenneth; Krushelnycky, Paul D.

    2018-01-01

    Hawaii is home to over 60 ant species, including five of the six most damaging invasive ants. Although there have been many surveys of ants in Hawaii, the last island-wide hand-collection survey of ants on Oahu was conducted in 1988–1994. In 2012, a timed hand-collection of ants was made at 44 sites in a systematic, roadside survey throughout Oahu. Ants were identified and species distribution in relation to elevation, precipitation and soil type was analyzed. To assess possible convenience sampling bias, 15 additional sites were sampled further from roads to compare with the samples near roads. Twenty-four species of ants were found and mapped; Pheidole megacephala (F.), Ochetellus glaber (Mayr), and Technomyrmex difficilis Forel were the most frequently encountered ants. For six ant species, a logistic regression was performed with elevation, average annual precipitation, and soil order as explanatory variables. O. glaber was found in areas with lower precipitation around Oahu. Paratrechina longicornis (Latrielle) and Tetramorium simillimum (Smith, F.) were found more often in lower elevations and in areas with the Mollisol soil order. Elevation, precipitation, and soil type were not significant sources of variation for P. megacephala, Plagiolepis alluaudi Emery, and T. difficilis. P. megacephala was associated with fewer mean numbers of ants where it occurred. Ant assemblages near and far from roads did not significantly differ. Many species of ants remain established on Oahu, and recent invaders are spreading throughout the island. Mapping ant distributions contributes to continued documentation and understanding of these pests. PMID:29439503

  6. Growth Effect of Cinnamomum kanehirae Cuttings Associated with its Dark Septate Endophytes.

    PubMed

    Lin, Lei-Chen

    Stout camphor tree (Cinnamomum kanehirae Hay.) is an endemic specie in Taiwan and cutting is the major propagation of C. kanehirae for plantation. Mycorrhiza can accelerate the growth of the host plant, especially in root of the host plant. The objective of this study was to investigate the growth effect of the 2 dark septate endophytes isolated from C. kanehirae. To measure the effects of stains CkDB2 and CkDB5 on growth performance of cuttings, the cuttings were carefully removed from their substrate after 9 months of incubation. Each treatment had three replicates. After 9 month incubation, the mycorrhizal synthesis experiment showed that the roots of synthesized cuttings produced microsclerotia, a characteristic of dark septate endophyte, but nothing was found in the control. All inoculated cuttings had higher values of net height growth, dry weight, leaf area and chlorophyll concentration than the control. This study demonstrated that the 2 endophytes, strains CkDB2 and CkDB5, capable of forming microsclerotia with C. kanehirae cuttings were dark septate endophytes. Based on the results, CkDB5 had a better growth response than CkDB2. Cuttings inoculated with CkDB5 showed a 200% increase in the root dry weight and therefore, CkDB5 could presumably be a prerequisite for the survival of C. kanehirae cutting plantation.

  7. Aboveground biomass and nutrient accumulation 20 years after clear-cutting a southern Appalachian watershed

    Treesearch

    Katherine J. Elliott; Lindsay R. Boring; Wayne T. Swank

    2002-01-01

    In 1975, we initiated a long-term interdisciplinary study of forest watershed ecosystem response to clear- cutting and cable logging in watershed 7 at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in the southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. This paper describes ~20 years of change in species composition, aboveground biomass, leaf area index (LAI),...

  8. The interactions of ants with their biotic environment.

    PubMed

    Chomicki, Guillaume; Renner, Susanne S

    2017-03-15

    This s pecial feature results from the symposium 'Ants 2016: ant interactions with their biotic environments' held in Munich in May 2016 and deals with the interactions between ants and other insects, plants, microbes and fungi, studied at micro- and macroevolutionary levels with a wide range of approaches, from field ecology to next-generation sequencing, chemical ecology and molecular genetics. In this paper, we review key aspects of these biotic interactions to provide background information for the papers of this s pecial feature After listing the major types of biotic interactions that ants engage in, we present a brief overview of ant/ant communication, ant/plant interactions, ant/fungus symbioses, and recent insights about ants and their endosymbionts. Using a large molecular clock-dated Formicidae phylogeny, we map the evolutionary origins of different ant clades' interactions with plants, fungi and hemiptera. Ants' biotic interactions provide ideal systems to address fundamental ecological and evolutionary questions about mutualism, coevolution, adaptation and animal communication. © 2017 The Author(s).

  9. The interactions of ants with their biotic environment

    PubMed Central

    Renner, Susanne S.

    2017-01-01

    This special feature results from the symposium ‘Ants 2016: ant interactions with their biotic environments’ held in Munich in May 2016 and deals with the interactions between ants and other insects, plants, microbes and fungi, studied at micro- and macroevolutionary levels with a wide range of approaches, from field ecology to next-generation sequencing, chemical ecology and molecular genetics. In this paper, we review key aspects of these biotic interactions to provide background information for the papers of this special feature. After listing the major types of biotic interactions that ants engage in, we present a brief overview of ant/ant communication, ant/plant interactions, ant/fungus symbioses, and recent insights about ants and their endosymbionts. Using a large molecular clock-dated Formicidae phylogeny, we map the evolutionary origins of different ant clades' interactions with plants, fungi and hemiptera. Ants' biotic interactions provide ideal systems to address fundamental ecological and evolutionary questions about mutualism, coevolution, adaptation and animal communication. PMID:28298352

  10. Methods for Casting Subterranean Ant Nests

    PubMed Central

    Tschinkel, Walter R.

    2010-01-01

    The study of subterranean ant nests has been impeded by the difficulty of rendering their structures in visible form. Here, several different casting materials are shown to make perfect casts of the underground nests of ants. Each material (dental plaster, paraffin wax, aluminum, zinc) has advantages and limitations, which are discussed. Some of the materials allow the recovery of the ants entombed in the casts, allowing a census of the ants to be connected with features of their nest architecture. The necessary equipment and procedures are described in the hope that more researchers will study this very important aspect of ant natural history. PMID:20673073

  11. Ant algorithms for discrete optimization.

    PubMed

    Dorigo, M; Di Caro, G; Gambardella, L M

    1999-01-01

    This article presents an overview of recent work on ant algorithms, that is, algorithms for discrete optimization that took inspiration from the observation of ant colonies' foraging behavior, and introduces the ant colony optimization (ACO) metaheuristic. In the first part of the article the basic biological findings on real ants are reviewed and their artificial counterparts as well as the ACO metaheuristic are defined. In the second part of the article a number of applications of ACO algorithms to combinatorial optimization and routing in communications networks are described. We conclude with a discussion of related work and of some of the most important aspects of the ACO metaheuristic.

  12. Proposed algorithm to improve job shop production scheduling using ant colony optimization method

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pakpahan, Eka KA; Kristina, Sonna; Setiawan, Ari

    2017-12-01

    This paper deals with the determination of job shop production schedule on an automatic environment. On this particular environment, machines and material handling system are integrated and controlled by a computer center where schedule were created and then used to dictate the movement of parts and the operations at each machine. This setting is usually designed to have an unmanned production process for a specified interval time. We consider here parts with various operations requirement. Each operation requires specific cutting tools. These parts are to be scheduled on machines each having identical capability, meaning that each machine is equipped with a similar set of cutting tools therefore is capable of processing any operation. The availability of a particular machine to process a particular operation is determined by the remaining life time of its cutting tools. We proposed an algorithm based on the ant colony optimization method and embedded them on matlab software to generate production schedule which minimize the total processing time of the parts (makespan). We test the algorithm on data provided by real industry and the process shows a very short computation time. This contributes a lot to the flexibility and timelines targeted on an automatic environment.

  13. Deer predation on leaf miners via leaf abscission

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yamazaki, Kazuo; Sugiura, Shinji

    2008-03-01

    The evergreen oak Quercus gilva Blume sheds leaves containing mines of the leaf miner Stigmella sp. (Lepidoptera: Nepticulidae) earlier than leaves with no mines in early spring in Nara, central Japan. The eclosion rates of the leaf miner in abscised and retained leaves were compared in the laboratory to clarify the effects of leaf abscission on leaf miner survival in the absence of deer. The leaf miner eclosed successfully from both fallen leaves and leaves retained on trees. However, sika deer ( Cervus nippon centralis Kishida) feed on the fallen mined leaves. Field observations showed that deer consume many fallen leaves under Q. gilva trees, suggesting considerable mortality of leaf miners due to deer predation via leaf abscission. This is a previously unreported relationship between a leaf miner and a mammalian herbivore via leaf abscission.

  14. Selection for protection in an ant-plant mutualism: host sanctions, host modularity, and the principal-agent game.

    PubMed

    Edwards, David P; Hassall, Mark; Sutherland, William J; Yu, Douglas W

    2006-03-07

    Retaliation against cheaters can prevent the breakdown of cooperation. Here we ask whether the ant-plant Cordia nodosa is able to apply retaliatory sanctions against its ant symbiont Allomerus octoarticulatus, which patrols new shoots to prevent herbivory. We test the hypothesis that the modular design of C. nodosa physiologically ties the growth of housing (stem swellings known as domatia) to the successful development of the attached leaves. We experimentally simulated herbivory by cutting leaves from patrolled shoots and found that the domatia on such 'cheated' shoots suffered higher mortality and lower growth than did controls, evidence for a host sanction. On the other hand, patrolling is costly to the ant, and experiment shows that non-patrollers run a low risk of being sanctioned because most leaves (and the attached domatia) escape heavy herbivory even when patrollers are absent. This suggests that cheaters might enjoy a higher fitness than do mutualists, despite sanctions, but we find that patrolling provides a net fecundity benefit when the colony and plant exceed a minimum size, which requires sustained ant investment in patrolling. These results map directly onto the principal-agent (P-A) game from economics, which we suggest can be used as a framework for studying stability in mutualisms, where high sampling costs and cheating do not allow market effects to select for mutual benefits.

  15. Food source quality and ant dominance hierarchy influence the outcomes of ant-plant interactions in an arid environment

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Flores-Flores, Rocío Vianey; Aguirre, Armando; Anjos, Diego V.; Neves, Frederico S.; Campos, Ricardo I.; Dáttilo, Wesley

    2018-02-01

    In this study, we conducted a series of experiments in a population of Vachellia constricta (Fabaceae) in the arid Tehuacan-Cuicatláan valley, Mexico, in order to evaluate if the food source quality and ant dominance hierarchy influence the outcomes of ant-plant interactions. Using an experiment with artificial nectaries, we observed that ants foraging on food sources with higher concentration of sugar are quicker in finding and attacking potential herbivorous insects. More specifically, we found that the same ant species may increase their defence effectiveness according to the quality of food available. These findings indicate that ant effectiveness in plant protection is context-dependent and may vary according to specific individual characteristics of plants. In addition, we showed that competitively superior ant species tend to dominate plants in periods with high nectar activity, emphasizing the role of the dominance hierarchy structuring ant-plant interactions. However, when high sugar food sources were experimentally available ad libitum, the nocturnal and competitively superior ant species, Camponotus atriceps, did not dominate the artificial nectaries during the day possibly due to limitation of its thermal tolerance. Therefore, temporal niche partitioning may be allowing the coexistence of two dominant ant species (Camponotus rubritorax during the day and C. atriceps at night) on V. constricta. Our findings indicate that the quality of the food source, and temporal shifts in ant dominance are key factors which structure the biotic plant defences in an arid environment.

  16. Persistence of pollination mutualisms in the presence of ants.

    PubMed

    Wang, Yuanshi; Wang, Shikun

    2015-01-01

    This paper considers plant-pollinator-ant systems in which the plant-pollinator interaction is mutualistic but ants have both positive and negative effects on plants. The ants also interfere with pollinators by preventing them from accessing plants. While a Beddington-DeAngelis (BD) formula can describe the plant-pollinator interaction, the formula is extended in this paper to characterize the pollination mutualism under the ant interference. Then, a plant-pollinator-ant system with the extended BD functional response is discussed, and global dynamics of the model demonstrate the mechanisms by which pollination mutualism can persist in the presence of ants. When the ant interference is strong, it can result in extinction of pollinators. Moreover, if the ants depend on pollination mutualism for survival, the strong interference could drive pollinators into extinction, which consequently lead to extinction of the ants themselves. When the ant interference is weak, a cooperation between plant-ant and plant-pollinator mutualisms could occur, which promotes survival of both ants and pollinators, especially in the case that ants (respectively, pollinators) cannot survive in the absence of pollinators (respectively, ants). Even when the level of ant interference remains invariant, varying ants' negative effect on plants can result in survival/extinction of both ants and pollinators. Therefore, our results provide an explanation for the persistence of pollination mutualism when there exist ants.

  17. Branch Width and Height Influence the Incorporation of Branches into Foraging Trails and Travel Speed in Leafcutter Ants Atta cephalotes (L.) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).

    PubMed

    Freeman, B M; Chaves-Campos, J

    2016-06-01

    Fallen branches are often incorporated into Atta cephalotes (L.) foraging trails to optimize leaf tissue transport rates and economize trail maintenance. Recent studies in lowlands show laden A. cephalotes travel faster across fallen branches than on ground, but more slowly ascending or descending a branch. The latter is likely because (1) it is difficult to travel up or downhill and (2) bottlenecks occur when branches are narrower than preceding trail. Hence, both branch height and width should determine whether branches decrease net travel times, but no study has evaluated it yet. Laden A. cephalotes were timed in relation to branch width and height across segments preceding, accessing, across, and departing a fallen branch in the highlands of Costa Rica. Ants traveled faster on branches than on cleared segments of trunk-trail, but accelerated when ascending or descending the branch-likely because of the absence of bottlenecks during the day in the highlands. Branch size did not affect ant speed in observed branches; the majority of which (22/24) varied from 11 to 120 mm in both height and width (average 66 mm in both cases). To determine whether ants exclude branches outside this range, ants were offered the choice between branches within this range and branches that were taller/wider than 120 mm. Ants strongly preferred the former. Our results indicate that A. cephalotes can adjust their speed to compensate for the difficulty of traveling on branch slopes. More generally, branch size should be considered when studying ant foraging efficiency.

  18. Experimental evidence that the introduced fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, does not competitively suppress co-occurring ants in a disturbed habitat.

    PubMed

    King, Joshua R; Tschinkel, Walter R

    2006-11-01

    1. The fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, is a globally distributed invasive ant that is largely restricted to disturbed habitats in its introduced range. For more than half a century, biologists have believed its success results from superior competitive abilities relative to native ant species, as well as an escape from their natural enemies. 2. We used large volumes of hot water to kill fire ant colonies, and only fire ant colonies, on experimental plots in pastures, and found that populations and diversity of co-occurring ants did not subsequently increase. 3. These results are contrary to classical predictions and indicate that S. invicta is not a superior competitor that suppresses native ants, and that the low diversity and abundance of native ants in degraded ecosystems does not result from interaction with fire ants. Instead, other factors such as prior disturbance and recruitment limitation may be the primary limiting factors for native species in these habitats.

  19. Using Ants To Investigate the Environment.

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Hagevik, Rita A.

    2003-01-01

    Describes three inquiry-based activities designed for students to begin to understand complex environmental relationships in their own backyard. Includes investigations of ants, which allow students to establish a baseline survey of ant fauna, test the importance of ants in nutrient cycling and soil structure maintenances, and increase student…

  20. Thermal stresses in the laser disc from a tetragonal c-cut crystal

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yumashev, K. V.; Loiko, P. A.

    2014-12-01

    Analytical expressions for thermal stresses and strains, as well as displacements, are obtained for the laser disc from a tetragonal crystal cut along the [0 0 1] axis under plane stress approximation, for the first time, to our knowledge. This study illustrates that, in polar coordinates, the normal stresses, σr and σθ, are angular independent, while the shear one τrθ is zero. The thermal strains, εr and εθ, and displacements, u and υ, depend on both radial and tangential coordinates; this dependence has the shape of a four-leaf rose. For considered crystal cutting with isotropic in-plane thermal expansion, the displacements are not pure radial (υ≠0). The values of stresses, strains and displacements are calculated for the disc from a c-cut yttrium vanadate laser crystal, Nd:YVO4. The thermal fracture issues are analyzed for this crystal.

  1. Leaf proteomic analysis in cassava (Manihot esculenta, Crantz) during plant development, from planting of stem cutting to storage root formation.

    PubMed

    Mitprasat, Mashamon; Roytrakul, Sittiruk; Jiemsup, Surasak; Boonseng, Opas; Yokthongwattana, Kittisak

    2011-06-01

    Tuberization in cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) occurs simultaneously with plant development, suggesting competition of photoassimilate partitioning between the shoot and the root organs. In potato, which is the most widely studied tuber crop, there is ample evidence suggesting that metabolism and regulatory processes in leaf may have an impact on tuber formation. To search for leaf proteins putatively involved in regulating tuber generation and/or development in cassava, comparative proteomic approaches have been applied to monitor differentially expressed leaf proteins during root transition from fibrous to tuberous. Stringent cross comparison and statistical analysis between two groups with different plant ages using Student's t test with 95% significance level revealed a number of protein spots whose abundance were significantly altered (P < 0.05) during week 4 to week 8 of growth. Of these, 39 spots were successfully identified by ion trap LC-MS/MS. The proteins span various functional categories from antioxidant and defense, carbohydrate metabolism, cyanogenesis, energy metabolism, miscellaneous and unknown proteins. Results suggested possible metabolic switches in the leaf that may trigger/regulate storage root initiation and growth. This study provides a basis for further functional characterization of differentially expressed leaf proteins, which can help understand how biochemical processes in cassava leaves may be involved in storage root development.

  2. Alate susceptibility in ants

    PubMed Central

    Ho, Eddie K H; Frederickson, Megan E

    2014-01-01

    Pathogens are predicted to pose a particular threat to eusocial insects because infections can spread rapidly in colonies with high densities of closely related individuals. In ants, there are two major castes: workers and reproductives. Sterile workers receive no direct benefit from investing in immunity, but can gain indirect fitness benefits if their immunity aids the survival of their fertile siblings. Virgin reproductives (alates), on the other hand, may be able to increase their investment in reproduction, rather than in immunity, because of the protection they receive from workers. Thus, we expect colonies to have highly immune workers, but relatively more susceptible alates. We examined the survival of workers, gynes, and males of nine ant species collected in Peru and Canada when exposed to the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana. For the seven species in which treatment with B. bassiana increased ant mortality relative to controls, we found workers were significantly less susceptible compared with both alate sexes. Female and male alates did not differ significantly in their immunocompetence. Our results suggest that, as with other nonreproductive tasks in ant colonies like foraging and nest maintenance, workers have primary responsibility for colony immunity, allowing alates to specialize on reproduction. We highlight the importance of colony-level selection on individual immunity in ants and other eusocial organisms. PMID:25540683

  3. Overview of the Distribution, Habitat Association and Impact of Exotic Ants on Native Ant Communities in New Caledonia

    PubMed Central

    Berman, Maïa; Andersen, Alan N.; Hély, Christelle; Gaucherel, Cédric

    2013-01-01

    Ants are among the most ubiquitous and harmful invaders worldwide, but there are few regional studies of their relationships with habitat and native ant communities. New Caledonia has a unique and diverse ant fauna that is threatened by exotic ants, but broad-scale patterns of exotic and native ant community composition in relation to habitat remain poorly documented. We conducted a systematic baiting survey of 56 sites representing the main New Caledonian habitat types: rainforest on ultramafic soils (15 sites), rainforest on volcano-sedimentary soils (13), maquis shrubland (15), Melaleuca-dominated savannas (11) and Acacia spirorbis thickets (2). We collected a total of 49 species, 13 of which were exotic. Only five sites were free of exotic species, and these were all rainforest. The five most abundant exotic species differed in their habitat association, with Pheidole megacephala associated with rainforests, Brachymyrmex cf. obscurior with savanna, and Wasmannia auropunctata and Nylanderia vaga present in most habitats. Anoplolepis gracilipes occurred primarily in maquis-shrubland, which contrasts with its rainforest affinity elsewhere. Multivariate analysis of overall ant species composition showed strong differentiation of sites according to the distribution of exotic species, and these patterns were maintained at the genus and functional group levels. Native ant composition differed at invaded versus uninvaded rainforest sites, in the absence of differences in habitat variables. Generalised Myrmicinae and Forest Opportunists were particularly affected by invasion. There was a strong negative relationship between the abundance of W. auropunctata and native ant abundance and richness. This emphasizes that, in addition to dominating many ant communities numerically, some exotic species, and in particular W. auropunctata, have a marked impact on native ant communities. PMID:23840639

  4. Using Ants to Investigate the Environment

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Hagevik, Rita A.

    2005-01-01

    The best place for students to begin to understand complex environmental relationships is in their own back yards. Doing investigations of ants allows students to establish a baseline survey of ant fauna, test the importance of ants in nutrient cycling and soil structure maintenance, and increase their understanding of the environment and their…

  5. Chemically armed mercenary ants protect fungus-farming societies.

    PubMed

    Adams, Rachelle M M; Liberti, Joanito; Illum, Anders A; Jones, Tappey H; Nash, David R; Boomsma, Jacobus J

    2013-09-24

    The ants are extraordinary in having evolved many lineages that exploit closely related ant societies as social parasites, but social parasitism by distantly related ants is rare. Here we document the interaction dynamics among a Sericomyrmex fungus-growing ant host, a permanently associated parasitic guest ant of the genus Megalomyrmex, and a raiding agro-predator of the genus Gnamptogenys. We show experimentally that the guest ants protect their host colonies against agro-predator raids using alkaloid venom that is much more potent than the biting defenses of the host ants. Relatively few guest ants are sufficient to kill raiders that invariably exterminate host nests without a cohabiting guest ant colony. We also show that the odor of guest ants discourages raider scouts from recruiting nestmates to host colonies. Our results imply that Sericomyrmex fungus-growers obtain a net benefit from their costly guest ants behaving as a functional soldier caste to meet lethal threats from agro-predator raiders. The fundamentally different life histories of the agro-predators and guest ants appear to facilitate their coexistence in a negative frequency-dependent manner. Because a guest ant colony is committed for life to a single host colony, the guests would harm their own interests by not defending the host that they continue to exploit. This conditional mutualism is analogous to chronic sickle cell anemia enhancing the resistance to malaria and to episodes in human history when mercenary city defenders offered either net benefits or imposed net costs, depending on the level of threat from invading armies.

  6. Chemically armed mercenary ants protect fungus-farming societies

    PubMed Central

    Adams, Rachelle M. M.; Liberti, Joanito; Illum, Anders A.; Jones, Tappey H.; Nash, David R.; Boomsma, Jacobus J.

    2013-01-01

    The ants are extraordinary in having evolved many lineages that exploit closely related ant societies as social parasites, but social parasitism by distantly related ants is rare. Here we document the interaction dynamics among a Sericomyrmex fungus-growing ant host, a permanently associated parasitic guest ant of the genus Megalomyrmex, and a raiding agro-predator of the genus Gnamptogenys. We show experimentally that the guest ants protect their host colonies against agro-predator raids using alkaloid venom that is much more potent than the biting defenses of the host ants. Relatively few guest ants are sufficient to kill raiders that invariably exterminate host nests without a cohabiting guest ant colony. We also show that the odor of guest ants discourages raider scouts from recruiting nestmates to host colonies. Our results imply that Sericomyrmex fungus-growers obtain a net benefit from their costly guest ants behaving as a functional soldier caste to meet lethal threats from agro-predator raiders. The fundamentally different life histories of the agro-predators and guest ants appear to facilitate their coexistence in a negative frequency-dependent manner. Because a guest ant colony is committed for life to a single host colony, the guests would harm their own interests by not defending the host that they continue to exploit. This conditional mutualism is analogous to chronic sickle cell anemia enhancing the resistance to malaria and to episodes in human history when mercenary city defenders offered either net benefits or imposed net costs, depending on the level of threat from invading armies. PMID:24019482

  7. Monoculture of Leafcutter Ant Gardens

    PubMed Central

    Mueller, Ulrich G.; Scott, Jarrod J.; Ishak, Heather D.; Cooper, Michael; Rodrigues, Andre

    2010-01-01

    Background Leafcutter ants depend on the cultivation of symbiotic Attamyces fungi for food, which are thought to be grown by the ants in single-strain, clonal monoculture throughout the hundreds to thousands of gardens within a leafcutter nest. Monoculture eliminates cultivar-cultivar competition that would select for competitive fungal traits that are detrimental to the ants, whereas polyculture of several fungi could increase nutritional diversity and disease resistance of genetically variable gardens. Methodology/Principal Findings Using three experimental approaches, we assessed cultivar diversity within nests of Atta leafcutter ants, which are most likely among all fungus-growing ants to cultivate distinct cultivar genotypes per nest because of the nests' enormous sizes (up to 5000 gardens) and extended lifespans (10–20 years). In Atta texana and in A. cephalotes, we resampled nests over a 5-year period to test for persistence of resident cultivar genotypes within each nest, and we tested for genetic differences between fungi from different nest sectors accessed through excavation. In A. texana, we also determined the number of Attamyces cells carried as a starter inoculum by a dispersing queens (minimally several thousand Attamyces cells), and we tested for genetic differences between Attamyces carried by sister queens dispersing from the same nest. Except for mutational variation arising during clonal Attamyces propagation, DNA fingerprinting revealed no evidence for fungal polyculture and no genotype turnover during the 5-year surveys. Conclusions/Significance Atta leafcutter ants can achieve stable, fungal monoculture over many years. Mutational variation emerging within an Attamyces monoculture could provide genetic diversity for symbiont choice (gardening biases of the ants favoring specific mutational variants), an analog of artificial selection. PMID:20844760

  8. Assessing soybean leaf area and leaf biomass by spectral measurements

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Holben, B. N.; Tucker, C. J.; Fan, C. J.

    1979-01-01

    Red and photographic infrared spectral radiances were correlated with soybean total leaf area index, green leaf area index, chlorotic leaf area index, green leaf biomass, chlorotic leaf biomass, and total biomass. The most significant correlations were found to exist between the IR/red radiance ratio data and green leaf area index and/or green leaf biomass (r squared equals 0.85 and 0.86, respectively). These findings demonstrate that remote sensing data can supply information basic to soybean canopy growth, development, and status by nondestructive determination of the green leaf area or green leaf biomass.

  9. Inside out: efflux of carbon dioxide from leaves represents more than leaf metabolism.

    PubMed

    Stutz, Samantha S; Anderson, Jeremiah; Zulick, Rachael; Hanson, David T

    2017-05-17

    High concentrations of inorganic carbon in the xylem, produced from root, stem, and branch respiration, travel via the transpiration stream and eventually exit the plant through distant tissues as CO2. Unlike previous studies that focused on the efflux of CO2 from roots and woody tissues, we focus on efflux from leaves and the potential effect on leaf respiration measurements. We labeled transported inorganic carbon, spanning reported xylem concentrations, with 13C and then manipulated transpiration rates in the dark in order to vary the rates of inorganic carbon supply to cut leaves from Brassica napus and Populus deltoides. We used tunable diode laser absorbance spectroscopy to directly measure the rate of gross 13CO2 efflux, derived from inorganic carbon supplied from outside of the leaf, relative to gross 12CO2 efflux generated from leaf cells. These experiemnts showed that 13CO2 efflux was dependent upon the rate of inorganic carbon supply to the leaf and the rate of transpiration. Our data show that the gross leaf efflux of xylem-transported CO2 is likely small in the dark when rates of transpiration are low. However, gross leaf efflux of xylem-transported CO2 could approach half the rate of leaf respiration in the light when transpiration rates and branch inorganic carbon concentrations are high, irrespective of the grossly different petiole morphologies in our experiment. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology.

  10. Relationships of leaf dark respiration to leaf nitrogen, specific leaf area and leaf life-span: a test across biomes and functional groups.

    PubMed

    Reich, Peter B; Walters, Michael B; Ellsworth, David S; Vose, James M; Volin, John C; Gresham, Charles; Bowman, William D

    1998-05-01

    Based on prior evidence of coordinated multiple leaf trait scaling, we hypothesized that variation among species in leaf dark respiration rate (R d ) should scale with variation in traits such as leaf nitrogen (N), leaf life-span, specific leaf area (SLA), and net photosynthetic capacity (A max ). However, it is not known whether such scaling, if it exists, is similar among disparate biomes and plant functional types. We tested this idea by examining the interspecific relationships between R d measured at a standard temperature and leaf life-span, N, SLA and A max for 69 species from four functional groups (forbs, broad-leafed trees and shrubs, and needle-leafed conifers) in six biomes traversing the Americas: alpine tundra/subalpine forest, Colorado; cold temperate forest/grassland, Wisconsin; cool temperate forest, North Carolina; desert/shrubland, New Mexico; subtropical forest, South Carolina; and tropical rain forest, Amazonas, Venezuela. Area-based R d was positively related to area-based leaf N within functional groups and for all species pooled, but not when comparing among species within any site. At all sites, mass-based R d (R d-mass ) decreased sharply with increasing leaf life-span and was positively related to SLA and mass-based A max and leaf N (leaf N mass ). These intra-biome relationships were similar in shape and slope among sites, where in each case we compared species belonging to different plant functional groups. Significant R d-mass -N mass relationships were observed in all functional groups (pooled across sites), but the relationships differed, with higher R d at any given leaf N in functional groups (such as forbs) with higher SLA and shorter leaf life-span. Regardless of biome or functional group, R d-mass was well predicted by all combinations of leaf life-span, N mass and/or SLA (r 2 ≥ 0.79, P < 0.0001). At any given SLA, R d-mass rises with increasing N mass and/or decreasing leaf life-span; and at any level of N mass , R d

  11. Relationships of leaf dark respiration to leaf nitrogen, specific leaf area and leaf life-span: a test across biomes and functional groups

    Treesearch

    Peter B. Reich; Michael B. Walters; David S. Ellsworth; [and others; [Editor’s note: James M.. Vose is the SRS co-author for this publication.

    1998-01-01

    Based on prior evidence of coordinated multiple leaf trait scaling, the authors hypothesized that variation among species in leaf dark respiration rate (Rd) should scale with variation in traits such as leaf nitrogen (N), leaf life-span, specific leaf area (SLA), and net photosynthetic capacity (Amax). However, it is not known whether such scaling, if it exists, is...

  12. Leaf-IT: An Android application for measuring leaf area.

    PubMed

    Schrader, Julian; Pillar, Giso; Kreft, Holger

    2017-11-01

    The use of plant functional traits has become increasingly popular in ecological studies because plant functional traits help to understand key ecological processes in plant species and communities. This also includes changes in diversity, inter- and intraspecific interactions, and relationships of species at different spatiotemporal scales. Leaf traits are among the most important traits as they describe key dimensions of a plant's life history strategy. Further, leaf area is a key parameter with relevance for other traits such as specific leaf area, which in turn correlates with leaf chemical composition, photosynthetic rate, leaf longevity, and carbon investment. Measuring leaf area usually involves the use of scanners and commercial software and can be difficult under field conditions. We present Leaf-IT, a new smartphone application for measuring leaf area and other trait-related areas. Leaf-IT is free, designed for scientific purposes, and runs on Android 4 or higher. We tested the precision and accuracy using objects with standardized area and compared the area measurements of real leaves with the well-established, commercial software WinFOLIA using the Altman-Bland method. Area measurements of standardized objects show that Leaf-IT measures area with high accuracy and precision. Area measurements with Leaf-IT of real leaves are comparable to those of WinFOLIA. Leaf-IT is an easy-to-use application running on a wide range of smartphones. That increases the portability and use of Leaf-IT and makes it possible to measure leaf area under field conditions typical for remote locations. Its high accuracy and precision are similar to WinFOLIA. Currently, its main limitation is margin detection of damaged leaves or complex leaf morphologies.

  13. The effect of air pollution and other environmental stressors on leaf fluctuating asymmetry and specific leaf area of Salix alba L.

    PubMed

    Wuytack, Tatiana; Wuyts, Karen; Van Dongen, Stefan; Baeten, Lander; Kardel, Fatemeh; Verheyen, Kris; Samson, Roeland

    2011-10-01

    We aimed at evaluating the effect of low-level air pollution on leaf area fluctuating asymmetry (FAA) and specific leaf area (SLA) of Salix alba L., taking into account other environmental factors. Cuttings were grown in standardized conditions in the near vicinity of air quality measuring stations in Belgium. Variability of SLA and FAA between measuring stations explained 83% and 7.26%, respectively, of the total variability. FAA was not influenced by air pollution or environmental factors such as shading, herbivory, air temperature and humidity. SLA was increased by an increase in shadow, while NO(x) and O(3) concentrations had only a marginal influence. The influence of SO(2) concentration was negligible. Although our data analysis suggests a relationship between SLA and NO(x)/O(3) concentration, the absence of a straightforward relationship between FAA and SLA and air pollution still questions the usefulness of these bio-indicators for monitoring air pollution. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  14. Ant nebula

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    1999-01-01

    A new Hubble Space Telescope image of a celestial object called the Ant Nebula may shed new light on the future demise of our Sun. The image is available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/pictures/wfpc .

    The nebula, imaged on July 20, 1997, and June 30, 1998, by Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, was observed by Drs. Raghvendra Sahai and John Trauger of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; Bruce Balick of the University of Washington in Seattle; and Vincent Icke of Leiden University in the Netherlands. JPL designed and built the camera.

    The Ant Nebula, whose technical name is Mz3, resembles the head and thorax of an ant when observed with ground-based telescopes. The new Hubble image, with 10 times the resolution revealing 100 times more detail, shows the 'ant's' body as a pair of fiery lobes protruding from a dying, Sun- like star. The Ant Nebula is located between 3,000 and 6,000 light years from Earth in the southern constellation Norma.

    The image challenges old ideas about what happens to dying stars. This observation, along with other pictures of various remnants of dying stars called planetary nebulae, shows that our Sun's fate will probably be much more interesting, complex and dramatic than astronomers previously believed.

    Although the ejection of gas from the dying star in the Ant Nebula is violent, it does not show the chaos one might expect from an ordinary explosion, but instead shows symmetrical patterns. One possibility is that the central star has a closely orbiting companion whose gravitational tidal forces shape the outflowing gas. A second possibility is that as the dying star spins, its strong magnetic fields are wound up into complex shapes like spaghetti in an eggbeater. Electrically charged winds, much like those in our Sun's solar wind but millions of times denser and moving at speeds up to 1,000 kilometers per second (more than 600 miles per second) from the star, follow the twisted field lines on their way

  15. Ants defend aphids against lethal disease

    PubMed Central

    Nielsen, Charlotte; Agrawal, Anurag A.; Hajek, Ann E.

    2010-01-01

    Social insects defend their own colonies and some species also protect their mutualist partners. In mutualisms with aphids, ants typically feed on honeydew produced by aphids and, in turn guard and shelter aphid colonies from insect natural enemies. Here we report that Formica podzolica ants tending milkweed aphids, Aphis asclepiadis, protect aphid colonies from lethal fungal infections caused by an obligate aphid pathogen, Pandora neoaphidis. In field experiments, bodies of fungal-killed aphids were quickly removed from ant-tended aphid colonies. Ant workers were also able to detect infective conidia on the cuticle of living aphids and responded by either removing or grooming these aphids. Our results extend the long-standing view of ants as mutualists and protectors of aphids by demonstrating focused sanitizing and quarantining behaviour that may lead to reduced disease transmission in aphid colonies. PMID:19923138

  16. Ex Ante Research Explored: Numbers, Types and Use of Ex Ante Policy Studies by the Dutch Government

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Haarhuis, Carolien Maria Klein; Smit, Monika

    2017-01-01

    Ex ante research can contribute to evidence-informed policies. In this article, we explore numbers and types of ex ante studies as well as their use. First, we took stock of a potentially wide range of ex ante studies published by the Dutch government between 2005 and 2011, applying a systematic approach. Though unevenly distributed across…

  17. Record Dynamics in Ants

    PubMed Central

    Richardson, Thomas O.; Robinson, Elva J. H.; Christensen, Kim; Jensen, Henrik J.; Franks, Nigel R.; Sendova-Franks, Ana B.

    2010-01-01

    The success of social animals (including ourselves) can be attributed to efficiencies that arise from a division of labour. Many animal societies have a communal nest which certain individuals must leave to perform external tasks, for example foraging or patrolling. Staying at home to care for young or leaving to find food is one of the most fundamental divisions of labour. It is also often a choice between safety and danger. Here we explore the regulation of departures from ant nests. We consider the extreme situation in which no one returns and show experimentally that exiting decisions seem to be governed by fluctuating record signals and ant-ant interactions. A record signal is a new ‘high water mark’ in the history of a system. An ant exiting the nest only when the record signal reaches a level it has never perceived before could be a very effective mechanism to postpone, until the last possible moment, a potentially fatal decision. We also show that record dynamics may be involved in first exits by individually tagged ants even when their nest mates are allowed to re-enter the nest. So record dynamics may play a role in allocating individuals to tasks, both in emergencies and in everyday life. The dynamics of several complex but purely physical systems are also based on record signals but this is the first time they have been experimentally shown in a biological system. PMID:20300174

  18. Pericarpial nectary-visiting ants do not provide fruit protection against pre-dispersal seed predators regardless of ant species composition and resource availability

    PubMed Central

    Ré Jorge, Leonardo; Benitez-Vieyra, Santiago; Amorim, Felipe W.

    2017-01-01

    Extrafloral nectaries can occur in both vegetative and reproductive plant structures. In many Rubiaceae species in the Brazilian Cerrado, after corolla abscission, the floral nectary continues to secret nectar throughout fruit development originating post-floral pericarpial nectaries which commonly attract many ant species. The occurrence of such nectar secreting structures might be strategic for fruit protection against seed predators, as plants are expected to invest higher on more valuable and vulnerable parts. Here, we performed ant exclusion experiments to investigate whether the interaction with ants mediated by the pericarpial nectaries of Tocoyena formosa affects plant reproductive success by reducing the number of pre-dispersal seed predators. We also assessed whether ant protection was dependent on ant species composition and resource availability. Although most of the plants were visited by large and aggressive ant species, such as Ectatomma tuberculatum and species of the genus Camponotus, ants did not protect fruits against seed predators. Furthermore, the result of the interaction was neither related to ant species composition nor to the availability of resources. We suggest that these results may be related to the nature and behavior of the most important seed predators, like Hemicolpus abdominalis weevil which the exoskeleton toughness prevent it from being predated by most ant species. On the other hand, not explored factors, such as reward quality, local ant abundance, ant colony characteristics and/or the presence of alternative energetic sources could also account for variations in ant frequency, composition, and finally ant protective effects, highlighting the conditionality of facultative plant-ant mutualisms. PMID:29211790

  19. Gaseous templates in ant nests.

    PubMed

    Cox, M D; Blanchard, G B

    2000-05-21

    We apply a diffusion model to the atmosphere of ant nests. With particular reference to carbon dioxide (CO2), we explore analytically and numerically the spatial and temporal patterns of brood- or worker-produced gases in nests. The maximum concentration within a typical one-chamber ant nest with approximately 200 ants can reach 12.5 times atmospheric concentration, reaching 95% of equilibrium concentrations within 15 min. Maximum concentration increases with increasing number of ants in the nest (or production rate of the gas), distance between the centre of the nest ants and the nest entrance, entrance length, wall thickness, and with decreasing entrance width, wall permeability and diffusion coefficient. The nest can be divided into three qualitatively distinct regions according to the shape of the gradient: a plateau of high concentration in the back half of the nest; an intermediate region of increasingly steep gradient towards the entrance; and a steep linear gradient in the entrance tunnel. These regions are robust to changes in gas concentrations, but vary with changes in nest architecture. The pattern of diffusing gases contains information about position and orientation relative to gas sources and sinks, and about colony state, including colony size, activity state and aspects of nest architecture. We discuss how this diffusion pattern may act as a "dynamic template", providing local cues which trigger behavioural acts appropriate to colony needs, which in turn may feed back to changes in the gas template. In particular, wall building occurs along lines of similar concentration for a variety of nest geometries; there is surprising convergence between the period of cycles of synchronously active ants and the time taken for CO2 levels to equilibrate; and the qualitatively distinct regions of the "dynamic template" correspond to regions occupied by different groups of ants.

  20. Extrafloral nectar fuels ant life in deserts.

    PubMed

    Aranda-Rickert, Adriana; Diez, Patricia; Marazzi, Brigitte

    2014-11-07

    Interactions mediated by extrafloral nectary (EFN)-bearing plants that reward ants with a sweet liquid secretion are well documented in temperate and tropical habitats. However, their distribution and abundance in deserts are poorly known. In this study, we test the predictions that biotic interactions between EFN plants and ants are abundant and common also in arid communities and that EFNs are only functional when new vegetative and reproductive structures are developing. In a seasonal desert of northwestern Argentina, we surveyed the richness and phenology of EFN plants and their associated ants and examined the patterns in ant-plant interaction networks. We found that 25 ant species and 11 EFN-bearing plant species were linked together through 96 pairs of associations. Plants bearing EFNs were abundant, representing ca. 19 % of the species encountered in transects and 24 % of the plant cover. Most ant species sampled (ca. 77 %) fed on EF nectar. Interactions showed a marked seasonal pattern: EFN secretion was directly related to plant phenology and correlated with the time of highest ant ground activity. Our results reveal that EFN-mediated interactions are ecologically relevant components of deserts, and that EFN-bearing plants are crucial for the survival of desert ant communities. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Annals of Botany Company.

  1. The Biochemical Toxin Arsenal from Ant Venoms

    PubMed Central

    Touchard, Axel; Aili, Samira R.; Fox, Eduardo Gonçalves Paterson; Escoubas, Pierre; Orivel, Jérôme; Nicholson, Graham M.; Dejean, Alain

    2016-01-01

    Ants (Formicidae) represent a taxonomically diverse group of hymenopterans with over 13,000 extant species, the majority of which inject or spray secretions from a venom gland. The evolutionary success of ants is mostly due to their unique eusociality that has permitted them to develop complex collaborative strategies, partly involving their venom secretions, to defend their nest against predators, microbial pathogens, ant competitors, and to hunt prey. Activities of ant venom include paralytic, cytolytic, haemolytic, allergenic, pro-inflammatory, insecticidal, antimicrobial, and pain-producing pharmacologic activities, while non-toxic functions include roles in chemical communication involving trail and sex pheromones, deterrents, and aggregators. While these diverse activities in ant venoms have until now been largely understudied due to the small venom yield from ants, modern analytical and venomic techniques are beginning to reveal the diversity of toxin structure and function. As such, ant venoms are distinct from other venomous animals, not only rich in linear, dimeric and disulfide-bonded peptides and bioactive proteins, but also other volatile and non-volatile compounds such as alkaloids and hydrocarbons. The present review details the unique structures and pharmacologies of known ant venom proteinaceous and alkaloidal toxins and their potential as a source of novel bioinsecticides and therapeutic agents. PMID:26805882

  2. Evidence that insect herbivores are deterred by ant pheromones.

    PubMed Central

    Offenberg, Joachim; Nielsen, Mogens Gissel; MacIntosh, Donald J; Havanon, Sopon; Aksornkoae, Sanit

    2004-01-01

    It is well documented that ants can protect plants against insect herbivores, but the underlying mechanisms remain almost undocumented. We propose and test the pheromone avoidance hypothesis--an indirect mechanism where insect herbivores are repelled not only by ants but also by ant pheromones. Herbivores subjected to ant predation will experience a selective advantage if they evolve mechanisms enabling them to avoid feeding within ant territories. Such a mechanism could be based on the ability to detect and evade ant pheromones. Field observations and data from the literature showed that the ant Oecophylla smaragdina distributes persistent pheromones throughout its territory. In addition, a laboratory test showed that the beetle Rhyparida wallacei, which this ant preys on, was reluctant to feed on leaves sampled within ant territories compared with leaves sampled outside territories. Thus, this study provides an example of an ant-herbivore system conforming to the pheromone avoidance hypothesis. PMID:15801596

  3. Distributed leadership and adaptive decision-making in the ant Tetramorium caespitum.

    PubMed

    Collignon, B; Detrain, C

    2010-04-22

    In the ant species Tetramorium caespitum, communication and foraging patterns rely on group-mass recruitment. Scouts having discovered food recruit nestmates and behave as leaders by guiding groups of recruits to the food location. After a while, a mass recruitment takes place in which foragers follow a chemical trail. Since group recruitment is crucial to the whole foraging process, we investigated whether food characteristics induce a tuning of recruiting stimuli by leaders that act upon the dynamics and size of recruited groups. High sucrose concentration triggers the exit of a higher number of groups that contain twice as many ants and reach the food source twice as fast than towards a weakly concentrated one. Similar trends were found depending on food accessibility: for a cut mealworm, accessibility to haemolymph results in a faster formation of larger groups than for an entire mealworm. These data provide the background for developing a stochastic model accounting for exploitation patterns by group-mass recruiting species. This model demonstrates how the modulations performed by leaders drive the colony to select the most profitable food source among several ones. Our results highlight how a minority of individuals can influence collective decisions in societies based on a distributed leadership.

  4. Aphid egg protection by ants: a novel aspect of the mutualism between the tree-feeding aphid Stomaphis hirukawai and its attendant ant Lasius productus

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Matsuura, Kenji; Yashiro, Toshihisa

    2006-10-01

    Aphids often form mutualistic associations with ants, in which the aphids provide the ants with honeydew and the ants defend the aphids from predators. In this paper, we report aphid egg protection by ants as a novel aspect of the deeply interdependent relationship between a tree-feeding aphid and its attendant ant. The ant Lasius productus harbours oviparous females, males, and eggs of the hinoki cypress-feeding aphid Stomaphis hirukawai in its nests in winter. We investigated the behaviour of ants kept with aphid eggs in petri dishes to examine whether the ants recognise the aphid eggs and tend them or only provide a refuge for the aphids. Workers carried almost all of the aphid eggs into the nest within 24 h. The ants indiscriminately tended aphid eggs collected from their own colonies and those from other ant colonies. The ants cleaned the eggs and piled them up in the nest, and egg tending by ants dramatically increased aphid egg survival rates. Starving the ants showed no significant effect on aphid egg survivorship. Without ants, aphid eggs were rapidly killed by fungi. These results suggested that grooming by the ants protected the aphid eggs, at least, against pathogenic fungi. This hygienic service afforded by the ants seems indispensable for egg survival of these aphids in an environment rich in potentially pathogenic microorganisms.

  5. Aphid egg protection by ants: a novel aspect of the mutualism between the tree-feeding aphid Stomaphis hirukawai and its attendant ant Lasius productus.

    PubMed

    Matsuura, Kenji; Yashiro, Toshihisa

    2006-10-01

    Aphids often form mutualistic associations with ants, in which the aphids provide the ants with honeydew and the ants defend the aphids from predators. In this paper, we report aphid egg protection by ants as a novel aspect of the deeply interdependent relationship between a tree-feeding aphid and its attendant ant. The ant Lasius productus harbours oviparous females, males, and eggs of the hinoki cypress-feeding aphid Stomaphis hirukawai in its nests in winter. We investigated the behaviour of ants kept with aphid eggs in petri dishes to examine whether the ants recognise the aphid eggs and tend them or only provide a refuge for the aphids. Workers carried almost all of the aphid eggs into the nest within 24 h. The ants indiscriminately tended aphid eggs collected from their own colonies and those from other ant colonies. The ants cleaned the eggs and piled them up in the nest, and egg tending by ants dramatically increased aphid egg survival rates. Starving the ants showed no significant effect on aphid egg survivorship. Without ants, aphid eggs were rapidly killed by fungi. These results suggested that grooming by the ants protected the aphid eggs, at least, against pathogenic fungi. This hygienic service afforded by the ants seems indispensable for egg survival of these aphids in an environment rich in potentially pathogenic microorganisms.

  6. Fire ants perpetually rebuild sinking towers.

    PubMed

    Phonekeo, Sulisay; Mlot, Nathan; Monaenkova, Daria; Hu, David L; Tovey, Craig

    2017-07-01

    In the aftermath of a flood, fire ants, Solenopsis invicta , cluster into temporary encampments. The encampments can contain hundreds of thousands of ants and reach over 30 ants high. How do ants build such tall structures without being crushed? In this combined experimental and theoretical study, we investigate the shape and rate of construction of ant towers around a central support. The towers are bell shaped, consistent with towers of constant strength such as the Eiffel tower, where each element bears an equal load. However, unlike the Eiffel tower, the ant tower is built through a process of trial and error, whereby failed portions avalanche until the final shape emerges. High-speed and novel X-ray videography reveal that the tower constantly sinks and is rebuilt, reminiscent of large multicellular systems such as human skin. We combine the behavioural rules that produce rafts on water with measurements of adhesion and attachment strength to model the rate of growth of the tower. The model correctly predicts that the growth rate decreases as the support diameter increases. This work may inspire the design of synthetic swarms capable of building in vertical layers.

  7. Fire ants perpetually rebuild sinking towers

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Phonekeo, Sulisay; Mlot, Nathan; Monaenkova, Daria; Hu, David L.; Tovey, Craig

    2017-07-01

    In the aftermath of a flood, fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, cluster into temporary encampments. The encampments can contain hundreds of thousands of ants and reach over 30 ants high. How do ants build such tall structures without being crushed? In this combined experimental and theoretical study, we investigate the shape and rate of construction of ant towers around a central support. The towers are bell shaped, consistent with towers of constant strength such as the Eiffel tower, where each element bears an equal load. However, unlike the Eiffel tower, the ant tower is built through a process of trial and error, whereby failed portions avalanche until the final shape emerges. High-speed and novel X-ray videography reveal that the tower constantly sinks and is rebuilt, reminiscent of large multicellular systems such as human skin. We combine the behavioural rules that produce rafts on water with measurements of adhesion and attachment strength to model the rate of growth of the tower. The model correctly predicts that the growth rate decreases as the support diameter increases. This work may inspire the design of synthetic swarms capable of building in vertical layers.

  8. Fire ants perpetually rebuild sinking towers

    PubMed Central

    Phonekeo, Sulisay; Mlot, Nathan; Monaenkova, Daria; Tovey, Craig

    2017-01-01

    In the aftermath of a flood, fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, cluster into temporary encampments. The encampments can contain hundreds of thousands of ants and reach over 30 ants high. How do ants build such tall structures without being crushed? In this combined experimental and theoretical study, we investigate the shape and rate of construction of ant towers around a central support. The towers are bell shaped, consistent with towers of constant strength such as the Eiffel tower, where each element bears an equal load. However, unlike the Eiffel tower, the ant tower is built through a process of trial and error, whereby failed portions avalanche until the final shape emerges. High-speed and novel X-ray videography reveal that the tower constantly sinks and is rebuilt, reminiscent of large multicellular systems such as human skin. We combine the behavioural rules that produce rafts on water with measurements of adhesion and attachment strength to model the rate of growth of the tower. The model correctly predicts that the growth rate decreases as the support diameter increases. This work may inspire the design of synthetic swarms capable of building in vertical layers. PMID:28791170

  9. Recycling stabilised/solidified drill cuttings for forage production in acidic soils.

    PubMed

    Kogbara, Reginald B; Dumkhana, Bernard B; Ayotamuno, Josiah M; Okparanma, Reuben N

    2017-10-01

    Stabilisation/solidification (S/S), which involves fixation and immobilisation of contaminants using cementitious materials, is one method of treating drill cuttings before final fate. This work considers reuse of stabilised/solidified drill cuttings for forage production in acidic soils. It sought to improve the sustainability of S/S technique through supplementation with the phytoremediation potential of plants, eliminate the need for landfill disposal and reduce soil acidity for better plant growth. Drill cuttings with an initial total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) concentration of 17,125 mg kg -1 and low concentrations of metals were treated with 5%, 10%, and 20% cement dosages. The treated drill cuttings were reused in granular form for growing a forage, elephant grass (Pennisetum purpureum), after mixing with uncontaminated soil. The grasses were also grown in uncontaminated soil. The phytoremediation and growth potential of the plants was assessed over a 12-week period. A mix ratio of one part drill cuttings to three parts uncontaminated soil was required for active plant growth. The phytoremediation ability of elephant grass (alongside abiotic losses) reduced the TPH level (up to 8795 mg kg -1 ) in the soil-treated-drill cuttings mixtures below regulatory (1000 mg kg -1 ) levels. There were also decreased concentrations of metals. The grass showed better heights and leaf lengths in soil containing drill cuttings treated with 5% cement dosage than in uncontaminated soil. The results suggest that recycling S/S treated drill cuttings for forage production may be a potential end use of the treated waste. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  10. Using SNP genetic markers to elucidate the linkage of the Co-34/Phg-3 anthracnose and angular leaf spot resistance gene cluster with the Ur-14 resistance gene

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    The Ouro Negro common bean cultivar contains the Co-34/Phg-3 gene cluster that confers resistance to the anthracnose (ANT) and angular leaf spot (ALS) pathogens. These genes are tightly linked on chromosome 4. Ouro Negro also has the Ur-14 rust resistance gene, reportedly in the vicinity of Co- 34; ...

  11. Usefulness of fire ant genetics in insecticide efficacy trials

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    Mature fire ant colonies contain an average of 80,000 worker ants. For this study, eight fire ant workers were randomly sampled from each colony. DNA fingerprints for each individual ant were generated using 21 simple sequence repeats (SSR) markers that were developed from fire ant DNA by other lab...

  12. Recurrence analysis of ant activity patterns

    PubMed Central

    2017-01-01

    In this study, we used recurrence quantification analysis (RQA) and recurrence plots (RPs) to compare the movement activity of individual workers of three ant species, as well as a gregarious beetle species. RQA and RPs quantify the number and duration of recurrences of a dynamical system, including a detailed quantification of signals that could be stochastic, deterministic, or both. First, we found substantial differences between the activity dynamics of beetles and ants, with the results suggesting that the beetles have quasi-periodic dynamics and the ants do not. Second, workers from different ant species varied with respect to their dynamics, presenting degrees of predictability as well as stochastic signals. Finally, differences were found among minor and major caste of the same (dimorphic) ant species. Our results underscore the potential of RQA and RPs in the analysis of complex behavioral patterns, as well as in general inferences on animal behavior and other biological phenomena. PMID:29016648

  13. Disc size regulation in the brood cell building behavior of leaf-cutter bee, Megachile tsurugensis

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kim, Jong-Yoon

    2007-12-01

    The leaf-cutter bee, Megachile tsurugensis, builds a brood cell in a preexisting tunnel with leaf discs that she cuts in decreasing sizes and assembles them like a Russian matryoshka doll. By experimentally manipulating the brood cell, it was investigated how she regulates the size of leaf discs that fit in the brood cell’s internal volume. When the internal volume was artificially increased by removing a bulk of leaf discs, she decreased the leaf disc size, although increasing it would have made the leaf disc more fitting in the increased internal volume. As a reverse manipulation, when the internal volume was decreased by inserting a group of inner layers of preassembled leaf discs to a brood cell, she decreased the leaf disc size, so that the leaf disc could fit in the decreased internal volume. These results suggest that she uses at least two different mechanisms to regulate the disc size: the use of some internal memory about the degree of building work accomplished in the first and of sensory feedback of dimensional information at the construction site in the second manipulation, respectively. It was concluded that a stigmergic mechanism, an immediate sensory feedback from the brood cell changed by the building work, alone cannot explain the details of the bee’s behavior particularly with respect to her initial response to the first manipulation. For a more complete explanation of the behavior exhibited by the solitary bee, two additional behavioral elements, reinforcement of building activity and processing of dimensional information, were discussed along with stigmergy.

  14. Disc size regulation in the brood cell building behavior of leaf-cutter bee, Megachile tsurugensis.

    PubMed

    Kim, Jong-yoon

    2007-12-01

    The leaf-cutter bee, Megachile tsurugensis, builds a brood cell in a preexisting tunnel with leaf discs that she cuts in decreasing sizes and assembles them like a Russian matryoshka doll. By experimentally manipulating the brood cell, it was investigated how she regulates the size of leaf discs that fit in the brood cell's internal volume. When the internal volume was artificially increased by removing a bulk of leaf discs, she decreased the leaf disc size, although increasing it would have made the leaf disc more fitting in the increased internal volume. As a reverse manipulation, when the internal volume was decreased by inserting a group of inner layers of preassembled leaf discs to a brood cell, she decreased the leaf disc size, so that the leaf disc could fit in the decreased internal volume. These results suggest that she uses at least two different mechanisms to regulate the disc size: the use of some internal memory about the degree of building work accomplished in the first and of sensory feedback of dimensional information at the construction site in the second manipulation, respectively. It was concluded that a stigmergic mechanism, an immediate sensory feedback from the brood cell changed by the building work, alone cannot explain the details of the bee's behavior particularly with respect to her initial response to the first manipulation. For a more complete explanation of the behavior exhibited by the solitary bee, two additional behavioral elements, reinforcement of building activity and processing of dimensional information, were discussed along with stigmergy.

  15. Myrmecochores can target high-quality disperser ants: variation in elaiosome traits and ant preferences for myrmecochorous Euphorbiaceae in Brazilian Caatinga.

    PubMed

    Leal, Laura Carolina; Lima Neto, Mário Correia; de Oliveira, Antônio Fernando Morais; Andersen, Alan N; Leal, Inara R

    2014-02-01

    Recent evidence suggests that the traditional view of myrmecochory as a highly diffuse interaction between diaspores and a wide range of ant species attracted to their elaiosomes may not be correct. The effectiveness of dispersal varies markedly among ant species, and combined with differential attractiveness of diaspores due to elaiosome size and composition, this raises the potential for myrmecochorous plants to target ant species that offer the highest quality dispersal services. We ask the question: Do particular physical and chemical traits of elaiosomes result in disproportionate removal of Euphorbiaceae diaspores by high-quality disperser ants in Caatinga vegetation of north-eastern Brazil? We offered seeds of five euphorb species that varied in morphological and chemical traits of elaiosomes to seed-dispersing ants. High-quality seed-disperser ants (species of Dinoponera, Ectatomma and Camponotus) were identified as those that rapidly collected and transported diaspores to their nests, often over substantial distances, whereas low-quality disperser ants (primarily species of Pheidole and Solenopsis) typically fed on elaiosomes in situ, and only ever transported diaspores very short distances. Low-quality disperser ants were equally attracted to the elaiosomes of all study species. However, high-quality dispersers showed a strong preference for diaspores with the highest elaiosome mass (and especially proportional mass). As far as we are aware, this is the first study to identify a mechanism of diaspore selection by high-quality ant dispersers based on elaiosome traits under field conditions. Our findings suggest that myrmecochorous plants can preferentially target high-quality seed-disperser ants through the evolution of particular elaiosome traits.

  16. Symbiotic mutualism with a community of opportunistic ants: protection, competition, and ant occupancy of the myrmecophyte Barteria nigritana (Passifloraceae)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Djiéto-Lordon, Champlain; Dejean, Alain; Gibernau, Marc; Hossaert-McKey, Martine; McKey, Doyle

    2004-10-01

    Barteria nigritana is a myrmecophyte tree of Lower Guinea coastal vegetation. Unlike the more specialised B. fistulosa, which harbours a single host-specific mutualistic ant, B. nigritana is associated with several opportunistic ants. Such symbiotic, yet opportunistic, ant-plant associations have been little studied. On 113 clumps of B. nigritana, we censused ant associates and herbivores and compared herbivory on plants occupied by different ants. In addition to these correlative data, protection conferred by different ant species was compared by herbivore-placement experiments. Identity of ant associate changed predictably over plant ontogeny. Pheidole megacephala was restricted to very small plants; saplings were occupied by either Oecophylla longinoda or Crematogaster sp., and the latter species was the sole occupant of larger trees. Damage by caterpillars of the nymphalid butterfly Acraea zetes accounted for much of the herbivory to leaves. Ant species differed in the protection provided to hosts. While P. megacephala provided no significant protection, plants occupied by O. longinoda and Crematogaster sp. suffered less damage than did unoccupied plants or those occupied by P. megacephala. Furthermore, O. longinoda provided more effective protection than did Crematogaster sp. Herbivore-placement experiments confirmed these results. Workers of O. longinoda killed or removed all larval instars of A. zetes. Crematogaster preyed on only the two first larval instars, and P. megacephala preyed mainly on eggs, only rarely attacking the two first larval instars. Opportunistic ants provided significant protection to this relatively unspecialised myrmecophyte. The usual associate of mature trees was not the species that provided most protection.

  17. Influences of Species Interactions With Aggressive Ants and Habitat Filtering on Nest Colonization and Community Composition of Arboreal Twig-Nesting Ants.

    PubMed

    Philpott, Stacy M; Serber, Zachary; De la Mora, Aldo

    2018-04-05

    Ant community assembly is driven by many factors including species interactions (e.g., competition, predation, parasitism), habitat filtering (e.g., vegetation differences, microclimate, food and nesting resources), and dispersal. Canopy ant communities, including dominant and twig-nesting ants, are structured by all these different factors, but we know less about the impacts of species interactions and habitat filters acting at the colonization or recruitment stage. We examined occupation of artificial twig nests placed in shade trees in coffee agroecosystems. We asked whether species interactions-aggression from the dominant canopy ant, Azteca sericeasur Longino (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)-or habitat filtering-species of tree where nests were placed or surrounding vegetation-influence colonization, species richness, and community composition of twig-nesting ants. We found 20 species of ants occupying artificial nests. Nest occupation was lower on trees with A. sericeasur, but did not differ depending on tree species or surrounding vegetation. Yet, there were species-specific differences in occupation depending on A. sericeasur presence and tree species. Ant species richness did not vary with A. sericeasur presence or tree species. Community composition varied with A. sericeasur presence and surrounding vegetation. Our results suggest that species interactions with dominant ants are important determinants of colonization and community composition of twig-nesting ants. Habitat filtering at the level of tree species did not have strong effects on twig-nesting ants, but changes in coffee management may contribute to differences in community composition with important implications for ant conservation in agricultural landscapes, as well as biological control of coffee pests.

  18. Final report on the safety assessment of AloeAndongensis Extract, Aloe Andongensis Leaf Juice,aloe Arborescens Leaf Extract, Aloe Arborescens Leaf Juice, Aloe Arborescens Leaf Protoplasts, Aloe Barbadensis Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice,aloe Barbadensis Leaf Polysaccharides, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Aloe Ferox Leaf Extract, Aloe Ferox Leaf Juice, and Aloe Ferox Leaf Juice Extract.

    PubMed

    2007-01-01

    Plant materials derived from the Aloe plant are used as cosmetic ingredients, including Aloe Andongensis Extract, Aloe Andongensis Leaf Juice, Aloe Arborescens Leaf Extract, Aloe Arborescens Leaf Juice, Aloe Arborescens Leaf Protoplasts, Aloe Barbadensis Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Polysaccharides, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Aloe Ferox Leaf Extract, Aloe Ferox Leaf Juice, and Aloe Ferox Leaf Juice Extract. These ingredients function primarily as skin-conditioning agents and are included in cosmetics only at low concentrations. The Aloe leaf consists of the pericyclic cells, found just below the plant's skin, and the inner central area of the leaf, i.e., the gel, which is used for cosmetic products. The pericyclic cells produce a bitter, yellow latex containing a number of anthraquinones, phototoxic compounds that are also gastrointestinal irritants responsible for cathartic effects. The gel contains polysaccharides, which can be acetylated, partially acetylated, or not acetylated. An industry established limit for anthraquinones in aloe-derived material for nonmedicinal use is 50 ppm or lower. Aloe-derived ingredients are used in a wide variety of cosmetic product types at concentrations of raw material that are 0.1% or less, although can be as high as 20%. The concentration of Aloe in the raw material also may vary from 100% to a low of 0.0005%. Oral administration of various anthraquinone components results in a rise in their blood concentrations, wide systemic distribution, accumulation in the liver and kidneys, and excretion in urine and feces; polysaccharide components are distributed systemically and metabolized into smaller molecules. aloe-derived material has fungicidal, antimicrobial, and antiviral activities, and has been effective in wound healing and infection treatment in animals. Aloe barbadensis (also known as Aloe vera)-derived ingredients were not toxic

  19. Extreme Morphogenesis and Ecological Specialization among Cretaceous Basal Ants.

    PubMed

    Perrichot, Vincent; Wang, Bo; Engel, Michael S

    2016-06-06

    Ants comprise one lineage of the triumvirate of eusocial insects and experienced their early diversification within the Cretaceous [1-9]. Their ecological success is generally attributed to their remarkable social behavior. Not all ants cooperate in social hunting, however, and some of the most effective predatory ants are solitary hunters with powerful trap jaws [10]. Recent evolutionary studies predict that the early branching lineages of extant ants formed small colonies of ground-dwelling, solitary specialist predators [2, 5, 7, 11, 12], while some Cretaceous fossils suggest group recruitment and socially advanced behavior among stem-group ants [9]. We describe a trap-jaw ant from 99 million-year-old Burmese amber with head structures that presumably functioned as a highly specialized trap for large-bodied prey. These are a cephalic horn resulting from an extreme modification of the clypeus hitherto unseen among living and extinct ants and scythe-like mandibles that extend high above the head, both demonstrating the presence of exaggerated morphogenesis early among stem-group ants. The new ant belongs to the Haidomyrmecini, possibly the earliest ant lineage [9], and together these trap-jaw ants suggest that at least some of the earliest Formicidae were solitary specialist predators. With their peculiar adaptations, haidomyrmecines had a refined ecology shortly following the advent of ants. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  20. 9 CFR 354.121 - Ante-mortem inspection.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2010 CFR

    2010-01-01

    ... he may issue from time to time, be made of rabbits on the day of slaughter in any official plant... INSPECTION AND CERTIFICATION VOLUNTARY INSPECTION OF RABBITS AND EDIBLE PRODUCTS THEREOF Inspection Procedures; Ante-Mortem Inspections § 354.121 Ante-mortem inspection. An ante-mortem inspection of rabbits...

  1. 9 CFR 354.121 - Ante-mortem inspection.

    Code of Federal Regulations, 2011 CFR

    2011-01-01

    ... he may issue from time to time, be made of rabbits on the day of slaughter in any official plant... INSPECTION AND CERTIFICATION VOLUNTARY INSPECTION OF RABBITS AND EDIBLE PRODUCTS THEREOF Inspection Procedures; Ante-Mortem Inspections § 354.121 Ante-mortem inspection. An ante-mortem inspection of rabbits...

  2. Insect navigation: do ants live in the now?

    PubMed

    Graham, Paul; Mangan, Michael

    2015-03-01

    Visual navigation is a critical behaviour for many animals, and it has been particularly well studied in ants. Decades of ant navigation research have uncovered many ways in which efficient navigation can be implemented in small brains. For example, ants show us how visual information can drive navigation via procedural rather than map-like instructions. Two recent behavioural observations highlight interesting adaptive ways in which ants implement visual guidance. Firstly, it has been shown that the systematic nest searches of ants can be biased by recent experience of familiar scenes. Secondly, ants have been observed to show temporary periods of confusion when asked to repeat a route segment, even if that route segment is very familiar. Taken together, these results indicate that the navigational decisions of ants take into account their recent experiences as well as the currently perceived environment. © 2015. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.

  3. Ant predation on herbivores through a multitrophic lens: how effects of ants on plant herbivore defense and natural enemies vary along temperature gradients.

    PubMed

    Rodríguez-Castañeda, G; Brehm, G; Fiedler, K; Dyer, L A

    2016-04-01

    Ants are keystone predators in terrestrial trophic cascades. Addressing ants' roles in multitrophic interactions across regional gradients is important for understanding mechanisms behind range limits of species. We present four hypotheses of trophic dynamics occurring when ants are rare: first, there is a shift in predator communities; second, plants decrease investments in ant attraction and increase production of secondary metabolites; third, lower herbivory at high elevations allows plants to tolerate herbivory; and fourth, distribution of ant-plants can be limited based on ant abundance. Conducting experiments on multitrophic effects of ants across elevational gradients, and incorporating these results to ecological niche modeling (ENM) will improve our knowledge of the impacts of global change on ants, trophic interactions, and biodiversity. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

  4. Is the WBE model appropriate for semi-arid shrubs subjected to clear cutting?

    PubMed

    Issoufou, Hassane Bil-Assanou; Rambal, Serge; Le Dantec, Valérie; Oï, Monique; Laurent, Jean-Paul; Saadou, Mahamane; Seghieri, Josiane

    2015-02-01

    It is crucial to understand the adaptive mechanisms of woody plants facing periodic drought to assess their vulnerability to the increasing climate variability predicted in the Sahel. Guiera senegalensis J.F.Gmel is a semi-evergreen Combretaceae commonly found in Sahelian rangelands, fallows and crop fields because of its value as an agroforestry species. We compared canopy leafing, and allometric measurements of leaf area, stem area and stem length and their relationships with leaf water potential, stomatal conductance (gs) and soil-to-leaf hydraulic conductance (KS-L), in mature and current-year resprouts of G. senegalensis in Sahelian Niger. In mature shrubs, seasonal drought reduced the ratio of leaf area to cross-sectional stem area (AL : AS), mainly due to leaf shedding. The canopy of the current-year resprouts remained permanently leafed as the shrubs produced leaves and stems continuously, and their AL : AS ratio increased throughout the dry season. Their KS-L increased, whereas gs decreased. West, Brown and Enquist's (WBE) model can thus describe allometric trends in the seasonal life cycle of undisturbed mature shrubs, but not that of resprouts. Annual clear cutting drives allometric scaling relationships away from theoretical WBE predictions in the current-year resprouts, with scaling exponents 2.5 times greater than those of mature shrubs. High KS-L (twice that of mature shrubs) supports this intensive regeneration process. The adaptive strategy described here is probably common to many woody species that have to cope with both severe seasonal drought and regular disturbance over the long term. © The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.

  5. Pheromone disruption of Argentine ant trail integrity.

    PubMed

    Suckling, D M; Peck, R W; Manning, L M; Stringer, L D; Cappadonna, J; El-Sayed, A M

    2008-12-01

    Disruption of Argentine ant trail following and reduced ability to forage (measured by bait location success) was achieved after presentation of an oversupply of trail pheromone, (Z)-9-hexadecenal. Experiments tested single pheromone point sources and dispersion of a formulation in small field plots. Ant walking behavior was recorded and digitized by using video tracking, before and after presentation of trail pheromone. Ants showed changes in three parameters within seconds of treatment: (1) Ants on trails normally showed a unimodal frequency distribution of walking track angles, but this pattern disappeared after presentation of the trail pheromone; (2) ants showed initial high trail integrity on a range of untreated substrates from painted walls to wooden or concrete floors, but this was significantly reduced following presentation of a point source of pheromone; (3) the number of ants in the pheromone-treated area increased over time, as recruitment apparently exceeded departures. To test trail disruption in small outdoor plots, the trail pheromone was formulated with carnuba wax-coated quartz laboratory sand (1 g quartz sand/0.2 g wax/1 mg pheromone). The pheromone formulation, with a half-life of 30 h, was applied by rotary spreader at four rates (0, 2.5, 7.5, and 25 mg pheromone/m(2)) to 1- and 4-m(2) plots in Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. Ant counts at bait cards in treated plots were significantly reduced compared to controls on the day of treatment, and there was a significant reduction in ant foraging for 2 days. These results show that trail pheromone disruption of Argentine ants is possible, but a much more durable formulation is needed before nest-level impacts can be expected.

  6. Alkaloid venom weaponry of three Megalomyrmex thief ants and the behavioral response of Cyphomyrmex costatus host ants.

    PubMed

    Adams, Rachelle M M; Jones, Tappey H; Longino, John T; Weatherford, Robert G; Mueller, Ulrich G

    2015-04-01

    Social parasites exploit other societies by invading and stealing resources. Some enter protected nests using offensive chemical weaponry made from alkaloid-based venom. We characterized the venoms of three Megalomyrmex thief ant species (M. mondabora, M. mondaboroides, and M. silvestrii) that parasitize the fungus-growing ants, and developed an ethogram to describe host ant reactions to raiding M. mondaboroides and M. silvestrii parasites. We compared piperidine, pyrrolidine, and pyrolizidine venom alkaloid structures with synthetic samples from previous studies, and describe the novel stereochemistry of trans 2-hexyl-5-[8-oxononyl]-pyrrolidine (3) from M. mondabora. We showed that workers of Cyphomyrmex costatus, the host of M. mondaboroides and M. silvestrii, react to a sting by Megalomyrmex parasites mainly with submissive behavior, playing dead or retreating. Host submission also followed brief antennal contact. The behavior of C. costatus ants observed in this study was similar to that of Cyphomyrmex cornutus, host of M. mondabora, suggesting that the alkaloidal venoms with pyrrolidines from M. mondabora, piperidines from M. mondaboroides, and pyrolizidines from M. silvestrii may function similarly as appeasement and repellent allomones against host ants, despite their different chemical structure. With the use of these chemical weapons, the Megalomyrmex thief ants are met with little host resistance and easily exploit host colony resources.

  7. The devil to pay: a cost of mutualism with Myrmelachista schumanni ants in ‘devil's gardens’ is increased herbivory on Duroia hirsuta trees

    PubMed Central

    Frederickson, Megan E; Gordon, Deborah M

    2007-01-01

    ‘Devil's gardens’ are nearly pure stands of the myrmecophyte, Duroia hirsuta, that occur in Amazonian rainforests. Devil's gardens are created by Myrmelachista schumanni ants, which nest in D. hirsuta trees and kill other plants using formic acid as an herbicide. Here, we show that this ant–plant mutualism has an associated cost; by making devil's gardens, M. schumanni increases herbivory on D. hirsuta. We measured standing leaf herbivory on D. hirsuta trees and found that they sustain higher herbivory inside than outside devil's gardens. We also measured the rate of herbivory on nursery-grown D. hirsuta saplings planted inside and outside devil's gardens in ant-exclusion and control treatments. We found that when we excluded ants, herbivory on D. hirsuta was higher inside than outside devil's gardens. These results suggest that devil's gardens are a concentrated resource for herbivores. Myrmelachista schumanni workers defend D. hirsuta against herbivores, but do not fully counterbalance the high herbivore pressure in devil's gardens. We suggest that high herbivory may limit the spread of devil's gardens, possibly explaining why devil's gardens do not overrun Amazonian rainforests. PMID:17301016

  8. Whole-leaf sanitizing wash improves chlorine efficacy for microbial reduction and prevents pathogen cross contamination during fresh-cut lettuce processing

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    Currently, nearly all fresh-cut lettuce processing facilities in the United States use chlorinated water or other sanitizer solutions for microbial reduction after lettuce is cut. It is believed that freshly cut lettuce releases significant amounts of organic matters that negatively impact the effec...

  9. Extrafloral nectar fuels ant life in deserts

    PubMed Central

    Aranda-Rickert, Adriana; Diez, Patricia; Marazzi, Brigitte

    2014-01-01

    Interactions mediated by extrafloral nectary (EFN)-bearing plants that reward ants with a sweet liquid secretion are well documented in temperate and tropical habitats. However, their distribution and abundance in deserts are poorly known. In this study, we test the predictions that biotic interactions between EFN plants and ants are abundant and common also in arid communities and that EFNs are only functional when new vegetative and reproductive structures are developing. In a seasonal desert of northwestern Argentina, we surveyed the richness and phenology of EFN plants and their associated ants and examined the patterns in ant–plant interaction networks. We found that 25 ant species and 11 EFN-bearing plant species were linked together through 96 pairs of associations. Plants bearing EFNs were abundant, representing ca. 19 % of the species encountered in transects and 24 % of the plant cover. Most ant species sampled (ca. 77 %) fed on EF nectar. Interactions showed a marked seasonal pattern: EFN secretion was directly related to plant phenology and correlated with the time of highest ant ground activity. Our results reveal that EFN-mediated interactions are ecologically relevant components of deserts, and that EFN-bearing plants are crucial for the survival of desert ant communities. PMID:25381258

  10. How to be an ant on figs

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Bain, Anthony; Harrison, Rhett D.; Schatz, Bertrand

    2014-05-01

    Mutualistic interactions are open to exploitation by one or other of the partners and a diversity of other organisms, and hence are best understood as being embedded in a complex network of biotic interactions. Figs participate in an obligate mutualism in that figs are dependent on agaonid fig wasps for pollination and the wasps are dependent on fig ovules for brood sites. Ants are common insect predators and abundant in tropical forests. Ants have been recorded on approximately 11% of fig species, including all six subgenera, and often affect the fig-fig pollinator interaction through their predation of either pollinating and parasitic wasps. On monoecious figs, ants are often associated with hemipterans, whereas in dioecious figs ants predominantly prey on fig wasps. A few fig species are true myrmecophytes, with domatia or food rewards for ants, and in at least one species this is linked to predation of parasitic fig wasps. Ants also play a role in dispersal of fig seeds and may be particularly important for hemi-epiphytic species, which require high quality establishment microsites in the canopy. The intersection between the fig-fig pollinator and ant-plant systems promises to provide fertile ground for understanding mutualistic interactions within the context of complex interaction networks.

  11. Foraging Distance of the Argentine Ant in California Vineyards.

    PubMed

    Hogg, Brian N; Nelson, Erik H; Hagler, James R; Daane, Kent M

    2018-04-02

    Argentine ants, Linepithema humile (Mayr) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), form mutualisms with hemipteran pests in crop systems. In vineyards, they feed on honeydew produced by mealybugs and soft scales, which they tend and protect from natural enemies. Few options for controlling Argentine ants are available; one of the more effective approaches is to use liquid baits containing a low dose of an insecticide. Knowledge of ant foraging patterns is required to estimate how many bait stations to deploy per unit area. To measure how far ants move liquid bait in vineyards, we placed bait stations containing sugar water and a protein marker in plots for 6 d, and then collected ants along transects extending away from bait stations. The ants moved an average of 16.08 m and 12.21 m from bait stations in the first and second years of the study, respectively. Marked ants were found up to 63 m from bait stations; however, proportions of marked ants decreased exponentially as distance from the bait station increased. Results indicate that Argentine ants generally forage at distances <36 m in California vineyards, thus suggesting that insecticide bait stations must be deployed at intervals of 36 m or less to control ants. We found no effect of insecticide on distances that ants moved the liquid bait, but this may have been because bait station densities were too low to affect the high numbers of Argentine ants that were present at the study sites.

  12. A novel life cycle arising from leaf segments in plants regenerated from horseradish hairy roots.

    PubMed

    Mano, Y; Matsuhashi, M

    1995-03-01

    Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) hairy root clones were established from hairy roots which were transformed with the Ri plasmid in Agrobacterium rhizogenes 15834. The transformed plants, which were regenerated from hairy root clones, had thicker roots with extensive lateral branches and thicker stems, and grew faster compared with non-transformed horseradish plants. Small sections of leaves of the transformed plants generated adventitious roots in phytohormone-free G (modified Gamborg's) medium. Root proliferation was followed by adventitious shoot formation and plant regeneration. Approximately twenty plants were regenerated per square centimeter of leaf. The transformed plants were easily transferable from sterile conditions to soil. When leaf segments of the transformed plants were cultured in a liquid fertilizer under non-sterile conditions, adventitious roots were generated at the cut ends of the leaves. Adventitious shoots were generated at the boundary between the leaf and the adventitious roots and developed into complete plants. This novel life cycle arising from leaf segments is a unique property of the transformed plants derived from hairy root clones.

  13. Life-history traits and parasitism rates of four phorid species (Diptera: Phoridae), parasitoids of Atta vollenweideri (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Argentina.

    PubMed

    Guillade, Andrea C; Folgarait, Patricia J

    2011-02-01

    Leaf-cutting ants in the genus Atta F. (Formicidae, Attini) are among the most important pest arthropods in Central and South America, consuming more vegetation than any other animal group. Among the organisms attacking ants in nature, flies of the family Phoridae have been proposed as the most promising biocontrol agents for pest ants. Four phorid species, Apocephalus setitarsus Brown, Myrmosicarius brandaoi Disney, Myrmosicarius gonzalezae Disney, and Eibesfeldtphora trilobata Disney, were reared from ants collected at Atta vollenweideri Forel nests and off foraging trails in Santa Fe province in Argentina. E. trilobata attacked larger ants and had bigger adults than the other species, also exhibiting the longest developmental time. Correlations between size of hosts and size of adults, as well as between size of adults and developmental times, could be established only in some cases. No differences were found between the sizes of the hosts from which males and females emerged. The natural percentage of parasitism varied throughout the seasons and seemed to be influenced by the extreme drought affecting the study site. We discuss why all four species would be suitable candidates for integrating an assemblage of biocontrol agents against A. vollenweideri.

  14. Pheromone disruption of Argentine ant trail integrity

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Suckling, D.M.; Peck, R.W.; Manning, L.M.; Stringer, L.D.; Cappadonna, J.; El-Sayed, A. M.

    2008-01-01

    Disruption of Argentine ant trail following and reduced ability to forage (measured by bait location success) was achieved after presentation of an oversupply of trail pheromone, (Z)-9-hexadecenal. Experiments tested single pheromone point sources and dispersion of a formulation in small field plots. Ant walking behavior was recorded and digitized by using video tracking, before and after presentation of trail pheromone. Ants showed changes in three parameters within seconds of treatment: (1) Ants on trails normally showed a unimodal frequency distribution of walking track angles, but this pattern disappeared after presentation of the trail pheromone; (2) ants showed initial high trail integrity on a range of untreated substrates from painted walls to wooden or concrete floors, but this was significantly reduced following presentation of a point source of pheromone; (3) the number of ants in the pheromone-treated area increased over time, as recruitment apparently exceeded departures. To test trail disruption in small outdoor plots, the trail pheromone was formulated with carnuba wax-coated quartz laboratory sand (1 g quartz sand/0.2 g wax/1 mg pheromone). The pheromone formulation, with a half-life of 30 h, was applied by rotary spreader at four rates (0, 2.5, 7.5, and 25 mg pheromone/m2) to 1- and 4-m2 plots in Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. Ant counts at bait cards in treated plots were significantly reduced compared to controls on the day of treatment, and there was a significant reduction in ant foraging for 2 days. These results show that trail pheromone disruption of Argentine ants is possible, but a much more durable formulation is needed before nest-level impacts can be expected. ?? 2008 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

  15. Desert ants achieve reliable recruitment across noisy interactions

    PubMed Central

    Razin, Nitzan; Eckmann, Jean-Pierre; Feinerman, Ofer

    2013-01-01

    We study how desert ants, Cataglyphis niger, a species that lacks pheromone-based recruitment mechanisms, inform each other about the presence of food. Our results are based on automated tracking that allows us to collect a large database of ant trajectories and interactions. We find that interactions affect an ant's speed within the nest. Fast ants tend to slow down, whereas slow ones increase their speed when encountering a faster ant. Faster ants tend to exit the nest more frequently than slower ones. So, if an ant gains enough speed through encounters with others, then she tends to leave the nest and look for food. On the other hand, we find that the probability for her to leave the nest depends only on her speed, but not on whether she had recently interacted with a recruiter that has found the food. This suggests a recruitment system in which ants communicate their state by very simple interactions. Based on this assumption, we estimate the information-theoretical channel capacity of the ants’ pairwise interactions. We find that the response to the speed of an interacting nest-mate is very noisy. The question is then how random interactions with ants within the nest can be distinguished from those interactions with a recruiter who has found food. Our measurements and model suggest that this distinction does not depend on reliable communication but on behavioural differences between ants that have found the food and those that have not. Recruiters retain high speeds throughout the experiment, regardless of the ants they interact with; non-recruiters communicate with a limited number of nest-mates and adjust their speed following these interactions. These simple rules lead to the formation of a bistable switch on the level of the group that allows the distinction between recruitment and random noise in the nest. A consequence of the mechanism we propose is a negative effect of ant density on exit rates and recruitment success. This is, indeed, confirmed by

  16. Congestion and communication in confined ant traffic

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Gravish, Nick; Gold, Gregory; Zangwill, Andrew; Goodisman, Michael A. D.; Goldman, Daniel I.

    2014-03-01

    Many social animals move and communicate within confined spaces. In subterranean fire ants Solenopsis invicta, mobility within crowded nest tunnels is important for resource and information transport. Within confined tunnels, communication and traffic flow are at odds: trafficking ants communicate through tactile interactions while stopped, yet ants that stop to communicate impose physical obstacles on the traffic. We monitor the bi-directional flow of fire ant workers in laboratory tunnels of varied diameter D. The persistence time of communicating ant aggregations, τ, increases approximately linearly with the number of participating ants, n. The sensitivity of traffic flow increases as D decreases and diverges at a minimum diameter, Dc. A cellular automata model incorporating minimal traffic features--excluded volume and communication duration--reproduces features of the experiment. From the model we identify a competition between information transfer and the need to maintain jam-free traffic flow. We show that by balancing information transfer and traffic flow demands, an optimum group strategy exists which maximizes information throughput. We acknowledge funding from NSF PoLS #0957659 and #PHY-1205878.

  17. Improved Ant Colony Clustering Algorithm and Its Performance Study

    PubMed Central

    Gao, Wei

    2016-01-01

    Clustering analysis is used in many disciplines and applications; it is an important tool that descriptively identifies homogeneous groups of objects based on attribute values. The ant colony clustering algorithm is a swarm-intelligent method used for clustering problems that is inspired by the behavior of ant colonies that cluster their corpses and sort their larvae. A new abstraction ant colony clustering algorithm using a data combination mechanism is proposed to improve the computational efficiency and accuracy of the ant colony clustering algorithm. The abstraction ant colony clustering algorithm is used to cluster benchmark problems, and its performance is compared with the ant colony clustering algorithm and other methods used in existing literature. Based on similar computational difficulties and complexities, the results show that the abstraction ant colony clustering algorithm produces results that are not only more accurate but also more efficiently determined than the ant colony clustering algorithm and the other methods. Thus, the abstraction ant colony clustering algorithm can be used for efficient multivariate data clustering. PMID:26839533

  18. Current and potential ant impacts in the Pacific region

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Loope, Lloyd L.; Krushelnycky, Paul D.

    2007-01-01

    Worldwide, ants are a powerful ecological force, and they appear to be dominant components of animal communities of many tropical and temperate ecosystems in terms of biomass and numbers of individuals (Bluthgen et al. 2000). For example, ants comprise up to 94% of arthropod individuals in fogging samples taken from diverse lowland tropical rainforest canopies, and 86% of the biomass (Davidson et al. 2003). The majority of these ant species and individuals obtain carbohydrates either from extrafloral nectaries or from sap-feeding Hemiptera that pass carbohydrate-rich “honeydew” to attending ants while concentrating nitrogen (N) from N-poor plant sap (Davidson et al. 2003). Honeydew and nectar represent key resources for arboreal ant species, although most ant species are at least partly carnivorous or scavengers (Bluthgen et al. 2004). In contrast to most of the terrestrial world, the biotas of many Pacific islands evolved without ants. Whereas endemic ant species are found in New Zealand (ca. 10 spp.), Tonga (ca. 10 spp.), and Samoa (ca. 12 spp.), other islands of Polynesia and parts of Micronesia likely lack native ants (Wilson and Taylor 1967, Wetterer 2002, Wetterer and Vargo 2003). About 20 Indo-Australian and western Pacific ant species range to the east and north of Samoa, but it is unclear how many of these were transported there by humans at some time (Wilson and Taylor 1967). Most of the remainder of the ant species currently found on Pacific islands are widespread species that fall in the category of “tramp species,” dispersed by recent human commerce and generally closely tied to human activity and urban areas (Wilson and Taylor 1967, McGlynn 1999). In Pacific island situations, some of these tramp ant species are able to thrive beyond areas of human activity. Relatively few ant species have been successful invaders of native communities on continents, and these include most of the species that pose the greatest problems for Pacific islands

  19. Temperature: Human Regulating, Ants Conforming

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Clopton, Joe R.

    2007-01-01

    Biological processes speed up as temperature rises. Procedures for demonstrating this with ants traveling on trails, and data gathered by students on the Argentine ant ("Linepithema humile") are presented. The concepts of temperature regulation and conformity are detailed with a focus on the processes rather than on terms that label the organisms.

  20. Maize YABBY genes drooping leaf1 and drooping leaf2 affect agronomic traits by regulating leaf architecture

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    Leaf architectural traits, such as length, width and angle, directly influence canopy structure and light penetration, photosynthate production and overall yield. We discovered and characterized a maize (Zea mays) mutant with aberrant leaf architecture we named drooping leaf1 (drl1), as leaf blades ...

  1. The relationship of leaf photosynthetic traits V cmax and Jmax - to leaf nitrogen, leaf phosphorus, and specific leaf area: A meta-analysis and modeling study

    DOE PAGES

    Walker, Anthony P.; Beckerman, Andrew P.; Gu, Lianhong; ...

    2014-07-25

    Great uncertainty exists in the global exchange of carbon between the atmosphere and the terrestrial biosphere. An important source of this uncertainty lies in the dependency of photosynthesis on the maximum rate of carboxylation (Vcmax) and the maximum rate of electron transport (Jmax). Understanding and making accurate prediction of C fluxes thus requires accurate characterization of these rates and their relationship with plant nutrient status over large geographic scales. Plant nutrient status is indicated by the traits: leaf nitrogen (N), leaf phosphorus (P), and specific leaf area (SLA). Correlations between Vcmax and Jmax and leaf nitrogen (N) are typically derivedmore » from local to global scales, while correlations with leaf phosphorus (P) and specific leaf area (SLA) have typically been derived at a local scale. Thus, there is no global-scale relationship between Vcmax and Jmax and P or SLA limiting the ability of global-scale carbon flux models do not account for P or SLA. We gathered published data from 24 studies to reveal global relationships of Vcmax and Jmax with leaf N, P, and SLA. Vcmax was strongly related to leaf N, and increasing leaf P substantially increased the sensitivity of Vcmax to leaf N. Jmax was strongly related to Vcmax, and neither leaf N, P, or SLA had a substantial impact on the relationship. Although more data are needed to expand the applicability of the relationship, we show leaf P is a globally important determinant of photosynthetic rates. In a model of photosynthesis, we showed that at high leaf N (3 gm 2), increasing leaf P from 0.05 to 0.22 gm 2 nearly doubled assimilation rates. Lastly, we show that plants may employ a conservative strategy of Jmax to Vcmax coordination that restricts photoinhibition when carboxylation is limiting at the expense of maximizing photosynthetic rates when light is limiting.« less

  2. The relationship of leaf photosynthetic traits V cmax and Jmax - to leaf nitrogen, leaf phosphorus, and specific leaf area: A meta-analysis and modeling study

    SciTech Connect

    Walker, Anthony P.; Beckerman, Andrew P.; Gu, Lianhong

    Great uncertainty exists in the global exchange of carbon between the atmosphere and the terrestrial biosphere. An important source of this uncertainty lies in the dependency of photosynthesis on the maximum rate of carboxylation (Vcmax) and the maximum rate of electron transport (Jmax). Understanding and making accurate prediction of C fluxes thus requires accurate characterization of these rates and their relationship with plant nutrient status over large geographic scales. Plant nutrient status is indicated by the traits: leaf nitrogen (N), leaf phosphorus (P), and specific leaf area (SLA). Correlations between Vcmax and Jmax and leaf nitrogen (N) are typically derivedmore » from local to global scales, while correlations with leaf phosphorus (P) and specific leaf area (SLA) have typically been derived at a local scale. Thus, there is no global-scale relationship between Vcmax and Jmax and P or SLA limiting the ability of global-scale carbon flux models do not account for P or SLA. We gathered published data from 24 studies to reveal global relationships of Vcmax and Jmax with leaf N, P, and SLA. Vcmax was strongly related to leaf N, and increasing leaf P substantially increased the sensitivity of Vcmax to leaf N. Jmax was strongly related to Vcmax, and neither leaf N, P, or SLA had a substantial impact on the relationship. Although more data are needed to expand the applicability of the relationship, we show leaf P is a globally important determinant of photosynthetic rates. In a model of photosynthesis, we showed that at high leaf N (3 gm 2), increasing leaf P from 0.05 to 0.22 gm 2 nearly doubled assimilation rates. Lastly, we show that plants may employ a conservative strategy of Jmax to Vcmax coordination that restricts photoinhibition when carboxylation is limiting at the expense of maximizing photosynthetic rates when light is limiting.« less

  3. Drivers of leaf-out phenology and their implications for species invasions: insights from Thoreau's Concord.

    PubMed

    Polgar, Caroline; Gallinat, Amanda; Primack, Richard B

    2014-04-01

    To elucidate climate-driven changes in leaf-out phenology and their implications for species invasions, we observed and experimentally manipulated leaf out of invasive and native woody plants in Concord, MA, USA. Using observations collected by Henry David Thoreau (1852-1860) and our own observations (2009-2013), we analyzed changes in leaf-out timing and sensitivity to temperature for 43 woody plant species. We experimentally tested winter chilling requirements of 50 species by exposing cut branches to warm indoor temperatures (22°C) during the winter and spring of 2013. Woody species are now leafing out an average of 18 d earlier than they did in the 1850s, and are advancing at a rate of 5 ± 1 d °C(-1) . Functional groups differ significantly in the duration of chilling they require to leaf out: invasive shrubs generally have weaker chilling requirements than native shrubs and leaf out faster in the laboratory and earlier in the field; native trees have the strongest chilling requirements. Our results suggest that invasive shrub species will continue to have a competitive advantage as the climate warms, because native plants are slower to respond to warming spring temperatures and, in the future, may not meet their chilling requirements. © 2013 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2013 New Phytologist Trust.

  4. Wasps robbing food from ants: a frequent behavior?

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Lapierre, Louis; Hespenheide, Henry; Dejean, Alain

    2007-12-01

    Food robbing, or cleptobiosis, has been well documented throughout the animal kingdom. For insects, intrafamilial food robbing is known among ants, but social wasps (Vespidae; Polistinae) taking food from ants has, to the best of our knowledge, never been reported. In this paper, we present two cases involving social wasps robbing food from ants associated with myrmecophytes. (1) Polybioides tabida F. (Ropalidiini) rob pieces of prey from Tetraponera aethiops Smith (Formicidae; Pseudomyrmecinae) specifically associated with Barteria fistulosa Mast. (Passifloraceae). (2) Charterginus spp. (Epiponini) rob food bodies from myrmecophytic Cecropia (Cecropiaceae) exploited by their Azteca mutualists (Formicidae; Dolichoderinae) or by opportunistic ants (that also attack cleptobiotic wasps). We note here that wasps gather food bodies (1) when ants are not yet active; (2) when ants are active, but avoiding any contact with them by flying off when attacked; and (3) through the coordinated efforts of two to five wasps, wherein one of them prevents the ants from leaving their nest, while the other wasps freely gather the food bodies. We suggest that these interactions are more common than previously thought.

  5. Variation in Extrafloral Nectary Productivity Influences the Ant Foraging

    PubMed Central

    2017-01-01

    Extrafloral nectar is the main food source offered by plants to predatory ants in most land environments. Although many studies have demonstrated the importance of extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) to plant defense against herbivores, the influence of EFNs secretory activity pattern on predatory ants remains yet not fully understood. Here, we verified the relation between the extrafloral nectar production of a plant community in Cerrado in different times of the day, and its attractiveness to ants. The extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) of seven plant species showed higher productivity overnight. Ant abundance was higher in times of large extrafloral nectar production, however, there was no positive relation between ant richness on plants and EFNs productivity. There was temporal resource partitioning among ant species, and it indicates strong resource competition. The nectar productivity varied among plant species and time of the day, and it influenced the visitation patterns of ants. Therefore, EFNs are a key ant-plant interaction driver in the studied system. PMID:28046069

  6. Optimal cue integration in ants.

    PubMed

    Wystrach, Antoine; Mangan, Michael; Webb, Barbara

    2015-10-07

    In situations with redundant or competing sensory information, humans have been shown to perform cue integration, weighting different cues according to their certainty in a quantifiably optimal manner. Ants have been shown to merge the directional information available from their path integration (PI) and visual memory, but as yet it is not clear that they do so in a way that reflects the relative certainty of the cues. In this study, we manipulate the variance of the PI home vector by allowing ants (Cataglyphis velox) to run different distances and testing their directional choice when the PI vector direction is put in competition with visual memory. Ants show progressively stronger weighting of their PI direction as PI length increases. The weighting is quantitatively predicted by modelling the expected directional variance of home vectors of different lengths and assuming optimal cue integration. However, a subsequent experiment suggests ants may not actually compute an internal estimate of the PI certainty, but are using the PI home vector length as a proxy. © 2015 The Author(s).

  7. Cutting

    MedlinePlus

    ... Staying Safe Videos for Educators Search English Español Cutting KidsHealth / For Teens / Cutting What's in this article? ... Getting Help Print en español Cortarse What Is Cutting? Emma's mom first noticed the cuts when Emma ...

  8. Fast and flexible: argentine ants recruit from nearby trails.

    PubMed

    Flanagan, Tatiana P; Pinter-Wollman, Noa M; Moses, Melanie E; Gordon, Deborah M

    2013-01-01

    Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) live in groups of nests connected by trails to each other and to stable food sources. In a field study, we investigated whether some ants recruit directly from established, persistent trails to food sources, thus accelerating food collection. Our results indicate that Argentine ants recruit nestmates to food directly from persistent trails, and that the exponential increase in the arrival rate of ants at baits is faster than would be possible if recruited ants traveled from distant nests. Once ants find a new food source, they walk back and forth between the bait and sometimes share food by trophallaxis with nestmates on the trail. Recruiting ants from nearby persistent trails creates a dynamic circuit, like those found in other distributed systems, which facilitates a quick response to changes in available resources.

  9. Termites, hemimetabolous diploid white ants?

    PubMed

    Korb, Judith

    2008-09-29

    Ants and termites are the most abundant animals on earth. Their ecological success is attributed to their social life. They live in colonies consisting of few reproducing individuals, while the large majority of colony members (workers/soldiers) forego reproduction at least temporarilly. Despite their apparent resemblance in social organisation, both groups evolved social life independently. Termites are basically social cockroaches, while ants evolved from predatory wasps. In this review, I will concentrate on termites with an ancestral life type, the wood-dwelling termites, to compare them with ants. Their different ancestries provided both groups with different life history pre-adaptations for social evolution. Like their closest relatives, the woodroaches, wood-dwelling termites live inside their food, a piece of wood. Thus, intensive costly food provisioning of their young is not necessary, especially as young instars are rather independent due to their hemimetabolous development. In contrast, ants are progressive food provisioners which have to care intensively for their helpless brood. Corresponding to the precocial - altricial analogy, helping by workers is selected in ants, while new evidence suggests that wood-dwelling termite workers are less engaged in brood care. Rather they seem to stay in the nest because there is generally low selection for dispersal. The nest presents a safe haven with no local resource competition as long as food is abundant (which is generally the case), while founding a new colony is very risky. Despite these differences between ants and termites, their common dwelling life style resulted in convergent evolution, especially winglessness, that probably accounts for the striking similarity between both groups. In ants, all workers are wingless and winglessness in sexuals evolved in several taxa as a derived trait. In wood-dwelling termites, workers are by default wingless as they are immatures. These immatures can develop into

  10. Foraging ants trade off further for faster: use of natural bridges and trunk trail permanency in carpenter ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Loreto, Raquel G.; Hart, Adam G.; Pereira, Thairine M.; Freitas, Mayara L. R.; Hughes, David P.; Elliot, Simon L.

    2013-10-01

    Trail-making ants lay pheromones on the substrate to define paths between foraging areas and the nest. Combined with the chemistry of these pheromone trails and the physics of evaporation, trail-laying and trail-following behaviours provide ant colonies with the quickest routes to food. In relatively uniform environments, such as that provided in many laboratory studies of trail-making ants, the quickest route is also often the shortest route. Here, we show that carpenter ants ( Camponotus rufipes), in natural conditions, are able to make use of apparent obstacles in their environment to assist in finding the fastest routes to food. These ants make extensive use of fallen branches, twigs and lianas as bridges to build their trails. These bridges make trails significantly longer than their straight line equivalents across the forest floor, but we estimate that ants spend less than half the time to reach the same point, due to increased carriage speed across the bridges. We also found that these trails, mainly composed of bridges, are maintained for months, so they can be characterized as trunk trails. We suggest that pheromone-based foraging trail networks in field conditions are likely to be structured by a range of potentially complex factors but that even then, speed remains the most important consideration.

  11. Musings on the management of Nylanderia fulva Crazy Ants

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    Nylanderia fulva is an invasive crazy ant that can inundate landscapes and structures. This invasive ant has been called the Caribbean crazy ant in Florida and the Rasberry [sic] crazy ant in Texas. The species was thought to be Nylanderia pubens or Nylanderia near pubens, in Florida and Texas, resp...

  12. Changes in growth, leaf abscission, and biomass associated with seasonal tropospheric ozone exposures of Populus tremuloides clones and seedlings

    Treesearch

    D.F. Karnosky; Z.E. Gagnon; R.E. Dickson; M.D. Coleman; E.H. Lee; J.G. Isebrands

    1996-01-01

    The effects of single-season tropospheric ozone (03) exposures on growth, leaf abscission, and biomass of trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) rooted cuttings and seedlings were studied. Plants were grown in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in open-top chambers with 03 exposures that ranged from...

  13. Fast and Flexible: Argentine Ants Recruit from Nearby Trails

    PubMed Central

    Flanagan, Tatiana P.; Pinter-Wollman, Noa M.; Moses, Melanie E.; Gordon, Deborah M.

    2013-01-01

    Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) live in groups of nests connected by trails to each other and to stable food sources. In a field study, we investigated whether some ants recruit directly from established, persistent trails to food sources, thus accelerating food collection. Our results indicate that Argentine ants recruit nestmates to food directly from persistent trails, and that the exponential increase in the arrival rate of ants at baits is faster than would be possible if recruited ants traveled from distant nests. Once ants find a new food source, they walk back and forth between the bait and sometimes share food by trophallaxis with nestmates on the trail. Recruiting ants from nearby persistent trails creates a dynamic circuit, like those found in other distributed systems, which facilitates a quick response to changes in available resources. PMID:23967129

  14. A novel type of nutritional ant-plant interaction: ant partners of carnivorous pitcher plants prevent nutrient export by dipteran pitcher infauna.

    PubMed

    Scharmann, Mathias; Thornham, Daniel G; Grafe, T Ulmar; Federle, Walter

    2013-01-01

    Many plants combat herbivore and pathogen attack indirectly by attracting predators of their herbivores. Here we describe a novel type of insect-plant interaction where a carnivorous plant uses such an indirect defence to prevent nutrient loss to kleptoparasites. The ant Camponotus schmitzi is an obligate inhabitant of the carnivorous pitcher plant Nepenthes bicalcarata in Borneo. It has recently been suggested that this ant-plant interaction is a nutritional mutualism, but the detailed mechanisms and the origin of the ant-derived nutrient supply have remained unexplained. We confirm that N. bicalcarata host plant leaves naturally have an elevated (15)N/(14)N stable isotope abundance ratio (δ(15)N) when colonised by C. schmitzi. This indicates that a higher proportion of the plants' nitrogen is insect-derived when C. schmitzi ants are present (ca. 100%, vs. 77% in uncolonised plants) and that more nitrogen is available to them. We demonstrated direct flux of nutrients from the ants to the host plant in a (15)N pulse-chase experiment. As C. schmitzi ants only feed on nectar and pitcher contents of their host, the elevated foliar δ(15)N cannot be explained by classic ant-feeding (myrmecotrophy) but must originate from a higher efficiency of the pitcher traps. We discovered that C. schmitzi ants not only increase the pitchers' capture efficiency by keeping the pitchers' trapping surfaces clean, but they also reduce nutrient loss from the pitchers by predating dipteran pitcher inhabitants (infauna). Consequently, nutrients the pitchers would have otherwise lost via emerging flies become available as ant colony waste. The plants' prey is therefore conserved by the ants. The interaction between C. schmitzi, N. bicalcarata and dipteran pitcher infauna represents a new type of mutualism where animals mitigate the damage by nutrient thieves to a plant.

  15. Model Specification Searches Using Ant Colony Optimization Algorithms

    ERIC Educational Resources Information Center

    Marcoulides, George A.; Drezner, Zvi

    2003-01-01

    Ant colony optimization is a recently proposed heuristic procedure inspired by the behavior of real ants. This article applies the procedure to model specification searches in structural equation modeling and reports the results. The results demonstrate the capabilities of ant colony optimization algorithms for conducting automated searches.

  16. Selenium exposure results in reduced reproduction in an invasive ant species and altered competitive behavior for a native ant species.

    PubMed

    De La Riva, Deborah G; Trumble, John T

    2016-06-01

    Competitive ability and numerical dominance are important factors contributing to the ability of invasive ant species to establish and expand their ranges in new habitats. However, few studies have investigated the impact of environmental contamination on competitive behavior in ants as a potential factor influencing dynamics between invasive and native ant species. Here we investigated the widespread contaminant selenium to investigate its potential influence on invasion by the exotic Argentine ant, Linepithema humile, through effects on reproduction and competitive behavior. For the fecundity experiment, treatments were provided to Argentine ant colonies via to sugar water solutions containing one of three concentrations of selenium (0, 5 and 10 μg Se mL(-1)) that fall within the range found in soil and plants growing in contaminated areas. Competition experiments included both the Argentine ant and the native Dorymyrmex bicolor to determine the impact of selenium exposure (0 or 15 μg Se mL(-1)) on exploitation- and interference-competition between ant species. The results of the fecundity experiment revealed that selenium negatively impacted queen survival and brood production of Argentine ants. Viability of the developing brood was also affected in that offspring reached adulthood only in colonies that were not given selenium, whereas those in treated colonies died in their larval stages. Selenium exposure did not alter direct competitive behaviors for either species, but selenium exposure contributed to an increased bait discovery time for D. bicolor. Our results suggest that environmental toxins may not only pose problems for native ant species, but may also serve as a potential obstacle for establishment among exotic species. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  17. [Ants as carriers of microorganisms in hospital environments].

    PubMed

    Pereira, Rogério Dos Santos; Ueno, Mariko

    2008-01-01

    Concern exists regarding the real possibility of public health threats caused by pathogenic agents that are carried by urban ants. The present study had the objective of isolating and identifying the microorganisms that are associated with ants in hospital environments. One hundred and twenty-five ants of the same species were collected from different units of a university hospital. Each ant was collected using a swab soaked with physiological solution and was transferred to a tube containing brain heart infusion broth and incubated at 35 degrees C for 24 hours. From each tube, with growth, inoculations were made into specific culturing media, to isolate any microorganisms. The ants presented a high capacity for carrying microorganism groups: spore-producing Gram-positive bacilli 63.5%, Gram-negative bacilli 6.3%, Gram-positive cocci 23.1%, filamentous fungi 6.7% and yeast 0.5%. Thus, it can be inferred that ants may be one of the agents responsible for disseminating microorganisms in hospital environments.

  18. Cascading trait-mediated interactions induced by ant pheromones

    PubMed Central

    Hsieh, Hsun-Yi; Liere, Heidi; Soto, Estelí J; Perfecto, Ivette

    2012-01-01

    Trait-mediated indirect interactions (TMII) can be as important as density-mediated indirect interactions. Here, we provide evidence for a novel trait-mediated cascade (where one TMII affects another TMII) and demonstrate that the mechanism consists of a predator eavesdropping on chemical signaling. Ants protect scale insects from predation by adult coccinellid beetles – the first TMII. However, parasitic phorid flies reduce ant foraging activity by 50% – the second TMII, providing a window of opportunity for female beetles to oviposit in high-quality microsites. Beetle larvae are protected from ant predation and benefit from living in patches with high scale densities. We demonstrate that female beetles can detect pheromones released by the ant when attacked by phorids, and that only females, and especially gravid females, are attracted to the ant pheromone. As ants reduce their movement when under attack by phorids, we conclude that phorids facilitate beetle oviposition, thus producing the TMII cascade. PMID:23139877

  19. Harvester ant bioassay for assessing hazardous chemical waste sites

    SciTech Connect

    Gano, K.A.; Carlile, D.W.; Rogers, L.E.

    1984-12-01

    A technique was developed for using harvester ants, Pogonomyrmex owhyeei, in terrestrial bioassays. Procedures were developed for maintaining stock populations, handling ants, and exposing ants to toxic materials. Relative toxicities were determined by exposing ants to 10 different materials. These materials included three insecticides, Endrin, Aldrin, and Dieldrin; one herbicide, 2,4-D; three oil-like compounds, wood preservative, drilling fluid, and slop oil; and three heavy metals, copper, zinc, and cadmium. Ants were exposed in petri dishes containing soil amended with a particular toxicant. Under these test conditions, ants showed no sensitivity to the metals or 2,4-D. Ants were sensitive to themore » insecticides and oils in repeated tests, and relative toxicity remained consistent throughout. Aldrin was the most toxic material, followed by Dieldrin, Endrin, wood preservative, drilling fluid, and slop oil. 10 refs., 2 figs., 2 tabs.« less

  20. Predaceous ants, beach replenishment, and nest placement by sea turtles.

    PubMed

    Wetterer, James K; Wood, Lawrence D; Johnson, Chris; Krahe, Holly; Fitchett, Stephanie

    2007-10-01

    Ants known for attacking and killing hatchling birds and reptiles include the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren), tropical fire ant [Solenopsis geminata (Fabr.)], and little fire ant [Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger)]. We tested whether sea turtle nest placement influenced exposure to predaceous ants. In 2000 and 2001, we surveyed ants along a Florida beach where green turtles (Chelonia mydas L.), leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea Vandelli), and loggerheads (Caretta caretta L.) nest. Part of the beach was artificially replenished between our two surveys. As a result, mean beach width experienced by nesting turtles differed greatly between the two nesting seasons. We surveyed 1,548 sea turtle nests (2000: 909 nests; 2001: 639 nests) and found 22 ant species. S. invicta was by far the most common species (on 431 nests); S. geminata and W. auropunctata were uncommon (on 3 and 16 nests, respectively). In 2000, 62.5% of nests had ants present (35.9% with S. invicta), but in 2001, only 30.5% of the nests had ants present (16.4% with S. invicta). Turtle nests closer to dune vegetation had significantly greater exposure to ants. Differences in ant presence on turtle nests between years and among turtle species were closely related to differences in nest placement relative to dune vegetation. Beach replenishment significantly lowered exposure of nests to ants because on the wider beaches turtles nested farther from the dune vegetation. Selective pressures on nesting sea turtles are altered both by the presence of predaceous ants and the practice of beach replenishment.

  1. Ants of the national park of American Samoa

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Banko, Paul C.; Peck, Robert W.

    2015-01-01

    American Samoa makes up the eastern end of the Samoan Archipelago. On the islands of Tutuila, Taʽū and Ofu, the National Park of American Samoa (NPSA) protects about 4,000 ha of coastal, mid-slope and ridge-top forest. While the ant fauna of the Samoan Archipelago is considered relatively well documented, much of NPSA has never been surveyed for ants, leaving the fauna and its distribution poorly known. To address this shortfall, we systematically surveyed ants within the Tutuila and Taʽū units of NPSA using standard methods (hand collecting, litter sifting, and baits) at 39 sites within six vegetation types ranging from 8 to 945 m elevation. Forty-four ant species were identified, 19 of which are exotic to the Samoan Archipelago. Two notoriously aggressive species, Anoplolepis gracilipes and Pheidole megacephala were detected at two and seven sites, respectively. Both of these species largely excluded all other ants from bait, although their impact on ant community composition is unclear. A suite of habitat variables measured at each site was assessed to explain park-wide ant distributions. Of eight variables evaluated, only elevation was associated with ant community structure, as the ratio of native to exotic ant species increased significantly with elevation on Tutuila. Our survey documented two species not previously reported from American Samoa. Strumigenys eggersi, detected at 12 sites, appears to be a new immigrant to the Pacific Basin. A species of Pheidole was collected that likely represents an undescribed species. Solenopsis geminata, an aggressive species first reported on Tutuila in 2002, was not detected during our survey.

  2. Chaos-order transition in foraging behavior of ants.

    PubMed

    Li, Lixiang; Peng, Haipeng; Kurths, Jürgen; Yang, Yixian; Schellnhuber, Hans Joachim

    2014-06-10

    The study of the foraging behavior of group animals (especially ants) is of practical ecological importance, but it also contributes to the development of widely applicable optimization problem-solving techniques. Biologists have discovered that single ants exhibit low-dimensional deterministic-chaotic activities. However, the influences of the nest, ants' physical abilities, and ants' knowledge (or experience) on foraging behavior have received relatively little attention in studies of the collective behavior of ants. This paper provides new insights into basic mechanisms of effective foraging for social insects or group animals that have a home. We propose that the whole foraging process of ants is controlled by three successive strategies: hunting, homing, and path building. A mathematical model is developed to study this complex scheme. We show that the transition from chaotic to periodic regimes observed in our model results from an optimization scheme for group animals with a home. According to our investigation, the behavior of such insects is not represented by random but rather deterministic walks (as generated by deterministic dynamical systems, e.g., by maps) in a random environment: the animals use their intelligence and experience to guide them. The more knowledge an ant has, the higher its foraging efficiency is. When young insects join the collective to forage with old and middle-aged ants, it benefits the whole colony in the long run. The resulting strategy can even be optimal.

  3. How Ants Use Vision When Homing Backward.

    PubMed

    Schwarz, Sebastian; Mangan, Michael; Zeil, Jochen; Webb, Barbara; Wystrach, Antoine

    2017-02-06

    Ants can navigate over long distances between their nest and food sites using visual cues [1, 2]. Recent studies show that this capacity is undiminished when walking backward while dragging a heavy food item [3-5]. This challenges the idea that ants use egocentric visual memories of the scene for guidance [1, 2, 6]. Can ants use their visual memories of the terrestrial cues when going backward? Our results suggest that ants do not adjust their direction of travel based on the perceived scene while going backward. Instead, they maintain a straight direction using their celestial compass. This direction can be dictated by their path integrator [5] but can also be set using terrestrial visual cues after a forward peek. If the food item is too heavy to enable body rotations, ants moving backward drop their food on occasion, rotate and walk a few steps forward, return to the food, and drag it backward in a now-corrected direction defined by terrestrial cues. Furthermore, we show that ants can maintain their direction of travel independently of their body orientation. It thus appears that egocentric retinal alignment is required for visual scene recognition, but ants can translate this acquired directional information into a holonomic frame of reference, which enables them to decouple their travel direction from their body orientation and hence navigate backward. This reveals substantial flexibility and communication between different types of navigational information: from terrestrial to celestial cues and from egocentric to holonomic directional memories. VIDEO ABSTRACT. Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

  4. Response of Leaf Water Potential, Stomatal Resistance, and Leaf Rolling to Water Stress

    PubMed Central

    O'Toole, John C.; Cruz, Rolando T.

    1980-01-01

    Numerous studies have associated increased stomatal resistance with response to water deficit in cereals. However, consideration of change in leaf form seems to have been neglected. The response of adaxial and abaxial stomatal resistance and leaf rolling in rice to decreasing leaf water potential was investigated. Two rice cultivars were subjected to control and water stress treatments in a deep (1-meter) aerobic soil. Concurrent measurements of leaf water potential, stomatal resistance, and degree of leaf rolling were made through a 29-day period after cessation of irrigation. Kinandang Patong, an upland adapted cultivar, maintained higher dawn and midday leaf water potential than IR28, a hybrid selected in irrigated conditions. This was not explained by differences in leaf diffusive resistance or leaf rolling, and is assumed to result from a difference in root system extent. Stomatal resistance increased more on the abaxial than the adaxial leaf surface in both cultivars. This was associated with a change in leaf form or rolling inward of the upper leaf surface. Both responses, increased stomatal resistance and leaf rolling, were initiated in a similar leaf water potential range (−8 to −12 bars). Leaves of IR28 became fully rolled at leaf water potential of about −22 bars; however, total leaf diffusive resistance was only about 4 to 5 seconds per centimeter (conductance 0.25 to 0.2 centimeter per second) at that stage. Leaf diffusive resistance and degree of leaf rolling were linearly related to leaf water potential. Thus, leaf rolling in rice may be used as an estimate of the other two less obvious effects of water deficit. PMID:16661206

  5. Ant species confer different partner benefits on two neotropical myrmecophytes.

    PubMed

    Frederickson, Megan E

    2005-04-01

    The dynamics of mutualistic interactions involving more than a single pair of species depend on the relative costs and benefits of interaction among alternative partners. The neotropical myrmecophytes Cordia nodosa and Duroia hirsuta associate with several species of obligately symbiotic ants. I compared the ant partners of Cordia and Duroia with respect to two benefits known to be important in ant-myrmecophyte interactions: protection against herbivores provided by ants, and protection against encroaching vegetation provided by ants. Azteca spp., Myrmelachista schumanni, and Allomerus octoarticulatus demerarae ants all provide the leaves of Cordia and Duroia some protection against herbivores. However, Azteca and Allomerus provide more protection than does Myrmelachista to the leaves of their host plants. Although Allomerus protects the leaves of its hosts, plants occupied by Allomerus suffer more attacks by herbivores to their stems than do plants occupied by other ants. Relative to Azteca or Allomerus, Myrmelachista ants provide better protection against encroaching vegetation, increasing canopy openness over their host plants. These differences in benefits among the ant partners of Cordia and Duroia are reflected in the effect of each ant species on host plant size, growth rate, and reproduction. The results of this study show how mutualistic ant partners can differ with respect to both the magnitude and type of benefits they provide to the same species of myrmecophytic host.

  6. Water stress-induced modifications of leaf hydraulic architecture in sunflower: co-ordination with gas exchange.

    PubMed

    Nardini, Andrea; Salleo, Sebastiano

    2005-12-01

    The hydraulic architecture, water relationships, and gas exchange of leaves of sunflower plants, grown under different levels of water stress, were measured. Plants were either irrigated with tap water (controls) or with PEG600 solutions with osmotic potential of -0.4 and -0.8 MPa (PEG04 and PEG08 plants, respectively). Mature leaves were measured for hydraulic resistance (R(leaf)) before and after making several cuts across minor veins, thus getting the hydraulic resistance of the venation system (R(venation)). R(leaf) was nearly the same in controls and PEG04 plants but it was reduced by about 30% in PEG08 plants. On the contrary, R(venation) was lowest in controls and increased in PEG04 and PEG08 plants as a likely result of reduction in the diameter of the veins' conduits. As a consequence, the contribution of R(venation) to the overall R(leaf) markedly increased from controls to PEG08 plants. Leaf conductance to water vapour (g(L)) was highest in controls and significantly lower in PEG04 and PEG08 plants. Moreover, g(L) was correlated to R(venation) and to leaf water potential (psi(leaf)) with highly significant linear relationships. It is concluded that water stress has an important effect on the hydraulic construction of leaves. This, in turn, might prove to be a crucial factor in plant-water relationships and gas exchange under water stress conditions.

  7. Water potential in excised leaf tissue. Comparison of a commercial dew point hygrometer and a thermocouple psychrometer on soybean, wheat, and barley

    SciTech Connect

    Nelsen, C.E.; Safir, G.R.; Hanson, A.D.

    1978-01-01

    Leaf water potential (Psi/sub leaf/) determinations were made on excised leaf samples using a commercial dew point hygrometer (Wescor Inc., Logan, Utah) and a thermocouple psychrometer operated in the isopiestic mode. With soybean leaves (Glycine max L.), there was good agreement between instruments; equilibration times were 2 to 3 hours. With cereals (Triticum aestivum L. and Hordeum vulgare L.), agreement between instruments was poor for moderately wilted leaves when 7-mm-diameter punches were used in the hygrometer and 20-mm slices were used in the psychrometer, because the Psi/sub leaf/ values from the dew point hygrometer were too high. Agreement was improvedmore » by replacing the 7-mm punch samples in the hygrometer by 13-mm slices, which had a lower cut edge to volume ratio. Equilibration times for cereals were normally 6 to 8 hours. Spuriously high Psi/sub leaf/ values obtained with 7-mm leaf punches may be associated with the ion release and reabsorption that occur upon tissue excision; such errors evidently depend both on the species and on tissue water status.« less

  8. Water potential in excised leaf tissue: comparison of a commercial dew point hygrometer and a thermocouple psychrometer on soybean, wheat, and barley.

    PubMed

    Nelsen, C E; Safir, G R; Hanson, A D

    1978-01-01

    Leaf water potential (Psi(leaf)) determinations were made on excised leaf samples using a commercial dew point hygrometer (Wescor Inc., Logan, Utah) and a thermocouple psychrometer operated in the isopiestic mode. With soybean leaves (Glycine max L.), there was good agreement between instruments; equilibration times were 2 to 3 hours. With cereals (Triticum aestivum L. and Hordeum vulgare L.), agreement between instruments was poor for moderately wilted leaves when 7-mm-diameter punches were used in the hygrometer and 20-mm slices were used in the psychrometer, because the Psi(leaf) values from the dew point hygrometer were too high. Agreement was improved by replacing the 7-mm punch samples in the hygrometer by 13-mm slices, which had a lower cut edge to volume ratio. Equilibration times for cereals were normally 6 to 8 hours. Spuriously high Psi(leaf) values obtained with 7-mm leaf punches may be associated with the ion release and reabsorption that occur upon tissue excision; such errors evidently depend both on the species and on tissue water status.

  9. Trail pheromone disruption of red imported fire ant.

    PubMed

    Suckling, David M; Stringer, Lloyd D; Bunn, Barry; El-Sayed, Ashraf M; Vander Meer, Robert K

    2010-07-01

    The fire ant, Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), is considered one of the most aggressive and invasive species in the world. Toxic bait systems are used widely for control, but they also affect non-target ant species and cannot be used in sensitive ecosystems such as organic farms and national parks. The fire ant uses recruitment pheromones to organize the retrieval of large food resources back to the colony, with Z,E-alpha-farnesene responsible for the orientation of workers along trails. We prepared Z,E-alpha-farnesene, (91% purity) from extracted E,E-alpha-farnesene and demonstrated disruption of worker trail orientation after presentation of an oversupply of this compound from filter paper point sources (30 microg). Trails were established between queen-right colony cells and food sources in plastic tubs. Trail-following behavior was recorded by overhead webcam, and ants were digitized before and after presentation of the treatment, using two software approaches. The linear regression statistic, r(2) was calculated. Ants initially showed high linear trail integrity (r(2) = 0.75). Within seconds of presentation of the Z,E-alpha-farnesene treatment, the trailing ants showed little or no further evidence of trail following behavior in the vicinity of the pheromone source. These results show that trailing fire ants become disorientated in the presence of large amounts of Z,E-alpha-farnesene. Disrupting fire ant recruitment to resources may have a negative effect on colony size or other effects yet to be determined. This phenomenon was demonstrated recently for the Argentine ant, where trails were disrupted for two weeks by using their formulated trail pheromone, Z-9-hexadecenal. Further research is needed to establish the long term effects and control potential for trail disruption in S. invicta.

  10. The rise of army ants and their relatives: diversification of specialized predatory doryline ants

    PubMed Central

    2014-01-01

    Background Army ants are dominant invertebrate predators in tropical and subtropical terrestrial ecosystems. Their close relatives within the dorylomorph group of ants are also highly specialized predators, although much less is known about their biology. We analyzed molecular data generated from 11 nuclear genes to infer a phylogeny for the major dorylomorph lineages, and incorporated fossil evidence to infer divergence times under a relaxed molecular clock. Results Because our results indicate that one subfamily and several genera of dorylomorphs are non-monophyletic, we propose to subsume the six previous dorylomorph subfamilies into a single subfamily, Dorylinae. We find the monophyly of Dorylinae to be strongly supported and estimate the crown age of the group at 87 (74–101) million years. Our phylogenetic analyses provide only weak support for army ant monophyly and also call into question a previous hypothesis that army ants underwent a fundamental split into New World and Old World lineages. Outside the army ants, our phylogeny reveals for the first time many old, distinct lineages in the Dorylinae. The genus Cerapachys is shown to be non-monophyletic and comprised of multiple lineages scattered across the Dorylinae tree. We recover, with strong support, novel relationships among these Cerapachys-like clades and other doryline genera, but divergences in the deepest parts of the tree are not well resolved. We find the genus Sphinctomyrmex, characterized by distinctive abdominal constrictions, to consist of two separate lineages with convergent morphologies, one inhabiting the Old World and the other the New World tropics. Conclusions While we obtain good resolution in many parts of the Dorylinae phylogeny, relationships deep in the tree remain unresolved, with major lineages joining each other in various ways depending upon the analytical method employed, but always with short internodes. This may be indicative of rapid radiation in the early history of

  11. The AINTEGUMENTA genes, MdANT1 and MdANT2, are associated with the regulation of cell production during fruit growth in apple (Malus × domestica Borkh.).

    PubMed

    Dash, Madhumita; Malladi, Anish

    2012-06-25

    Fruit growth in apple (Malus × domestica Borkh.) is mediated by cell production and expansion. Genes involved in regulating these processes and thereby fruit growth, are not well characterized. We hypothesized that the apple homolog(s) of AINTEGUMENTA (ANT), an APETALA2-repeat containing transcription factor, regulates cell production during fruit growth in apple. Two ANT genes, MdANT1 and MdANT2, were isolated from apple and their expression was studied during multiple stages of fruit development. MdANT1 and MdANT2 expression was high during early fruit growth coincident with the period of cell production, rapidly declined during exit from cell production, and remained low during the rest of fruit development. The effects of increase in carbohydrate availability during fruit growth were characterized. Increase in carbohydrate availability enhanced fruit growth largely through an increase in cell production. Expression of MdANT1 and MdANT2 increased sharply by up to around 5-fold in response to an increase in carbohydrate availability. Expression of the ANT genes was compared across two apple genotypes, 'Gala' and 'Golden Delicious Smoothee' (GS), which differ in the extent of fruit growth, largely due to differences in cell production. In comparison to 'Gala', the larger fruit-size genotype, GS, displayed higher levels and a longer duration of MdANT1 and MdANT2 expression. Expression of the ANTs and cell cycle genes in the fruit core and cortex tissues isolated using laser capture microdissection was studied. During early fruit growth, expression of the MdANTs was higher within the cortex, the tissue that constitutes the majority of the fruit. Additionally, MdANT1 and MdANT2 expression was positively correlated with that of A- and B-type CYCLINS, B-type CYCLIN-DEPENDENT-KINASES (CDKBs) and MdDEL1. Multiple lines of evidence from this study suggest that MdANT1 and MdANT2 regulate cell production during fruit growth in apple. ANTs may coordinate the expression of

  12. Hey! A Fire Ant Stung Me!

    MedlinePlus

    ... Staying Safe Videos for Educators Search English Español Hey! A Fire Ant Stung Me! KidsHealth / For Kids / Hey! A Fire Ant Stung Me! Print en español ¡ ... with it. More on this topic for: Kids Hey! A Bee Stung Me! Hey! A Scorpion Stung ...

  13. "Breath figures" on leaf surfaces-formation and effects of microscopic leaf wetness.

    PubMed

    Burkhardt, Juergen; Hunsche, Mauricio

    2013-01-01

    "Microscopic leaf wetness" means minute amounts of persistent liquid water on leaf surfaces which are invisible to the naked eye. The water is mainly maintained by transpired water vapor condensing onto the leaf surface and to attached leaf surface particles. With an estimated average thickness of less than 1 μm, microscopic leaf wetness is about two orders of magnitude thinner than morning dewfall. The most important physical processes which reduce the saturation vapor pressure and promote condensation are cuticular absorption and the deliquescence of hygroscopic leaf surface particles. Deliquescent salts form highly concentrated solutions. Depending on the type and concentration of the dissolved ions, the physicochemical properties of microscopic leaf wetness can be considerably different from those of pure water. Microscopic leaf wetness can form continuous thin layers on hydrophobic leaf surfaces and in specific cases can act similar to surfactants, enabling a strong potential influence on the foliar exchange of ions. Microscopic leaf wetness can also enhance the dissolution, the emission, and the reaction of specific atmospheric trace gases e.g., ammonia, SO2, or ozone, leading to a strong potential role for microscopic leaf wetness in plant/atmosphere interaction. Due to its difficult detection, there is little knowledge about the occurrence and the properties of microscopic leaf wetness. However, based on the existing evidence and on physicochemical reasoning it can be hypothesized that microscopic leaf wetness occurs on almost any plant worldwide and often permanently, and that it significantly influences the exchange processes of the leaf surface with its neighboring compartments, i.e., the plant interior and the atmosphere. The omission of microscopic water in general leaf wetness concepts has caused far-reaching, misleading conclusions in the past.

  14. Toxic industrial deposit remediation by ant activity

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Jilkova, Veronika; Frouz, Jan

    2016-04-01

    Toxic industrial deposits are often contaminated by heavy metals and the substrates have low pH values. In such systems, soil development is thus slowed down by high toxicity and acidic conditions which are unfavourable to soil fauna. Ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) are considered tolerant to heavy metal pollution and are known to increase organic matter content and microbial activity in their nests. Here, we focused on soil remediation caused by three ant species (Formica sanguinea, Lasius niger, and Tetramorium sp.) in an ore-washery sedimentation basin near Chvaletice (Czech Republic). Soil samples were taken from the centre of ant nests and from the nest surroundings (>3 m from nests). Samples were then analyzed for microbial activity and biomass and contents of organic matter and nutrients. As a result, ant species that most influenced soil properties was F. sanguinea as there were higher microbial activity and total nitrogen and ammonia contents in ant nests than in the surrounding soil. We expected such a result because F. sanguinea builds conspicuous large nests and is a carnivorous species that brings substantial amounts of nitrogen in insect prey to their nests. Effects of the other two ant species might be lower because of smaller nests and different feeding habits as they rely mainly on honeydew from aphids or on plant seeds that do not contain much nutrients.

  15. Heat-induced symmetry breaking in ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) escape behavior

    PubMed Central

    Chung, Yuan-Kai

    2017-01-01

    The collective egress of social insects is important in dangerous situations such as natural disasters or enemy attacks. Some studies have described the phenomenon of symmetry breaking in ants, with two exits induced by a repellent. However, whether symmetry breaking occurs under high temperature conditions, which are a common abiotic stress, remains unknown. In our study, we deposited a group of Polyrhachis dives ants on a heated platform and counted the number of escaping ants with two identical exits. We discovered that ants asymmetrically escaped through two exits when the temperature of the heated platform was >32.75°C. The degree of asymmetry increased linearly with the temperature of the platform. Furthermore, the higher the temperature of heated platform was, the more ants escaped from the heated platform. However, the number of escaping ants decreased for 3 min when the temperature was higher than the critical thermal limit (39.46°C), which is the threshold for ants to endure high temperature without a loss of performance. Moreover, the ants tended to form small groups to escape from the thermal stress. A preparatory formation of ant grouping was observed before they reached the exit, indicating that the ants actively clustered rather than accidentally gathered at the exits to escape. We suggest that a combination of individual and grouping ants may help to optimize the likelihood of survival during evacuation. PMID:28355235

  16. Insecticide Transfer Efficiency and Lethal Load in Argentine Ants

    DOE PAGES

    Hooper-Bui, L. M.; Kwok, E S.C.; Buchholz, B. A.; ...

    2015-07-03

    Trophallaxis between individual worker ants and the toxicant load in dead and live Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) in colonies exposed to fipronil and hydramethylnon experimental baits were examined using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). About 50% of the content of the crop containing trace levels of 14C-sucrose, 14C-hydramethylnon, and 14C-fipronil was shared between single donor and recipient ants. Dead workers and queens contained significantly more hydramethylnon (122.7 and 22.4 amol/μg ant, respectively) than did live workers and queens (96.3 and 10.4 amol/μg ant, respectively). Dead workers had significantly more fipronil (420.3 amol/μg ant) than did live workers (208.5 amol/μg ant), butmore » dead and live queens had equal fipronil levels (59.5 and 54.3 amol/μg ant, respectively). Moreover, the distribution of fipronil differed within the bodies of dead and live queens; the highest amounts of fipronil were recovered in the thorax of dead queens whereas live queens had the highest levels in the head. Resurgence of polygynous ant colonies treated with hydramethylnon baits may be explained by queen survival resulting from sublethal doses due to a slowing of trophallaxis throughout the colony. The bait strategies and dose levels for controlling insect pests need to be based on the specific toxicant properties and trophic strategies for targeting the entire colony.« less

  17. Insecticide Transfer Efficiency and Lethal Load in Argentine Ants

    SciTech Connect

    Hooper-Bui, L. M.; Kwok, E S.C.; Buchholz, B. A.

    Trophallaxis between individual worker ants and the toxicant load in dead and live Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) in colonies exposed to fipronil and hydramethylnon experimental baits were examined using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). About 50% of the content of the crop containing trace levels of 14C-sucrose, 14C-hydramethylnon, and 14C-fipronil was shared between single donor and recipient ants. Dead workers and queens contained significantly more hydramethylnon (122.7 and 22.4 amol/μg ant, respectively) than did live workers and queens (96.3 and 10.4 amol/μg ant, respectively). Dead workers had significantly more fipronil (420.3 amol/μg ant) than did live workers (208.5 amol/μg ant), butmore » dead and live queens had equal fipronil levels (59.5 and 54.3 amol/μg ant, respectively). Moreover, the distribution of fipronil differed within the bodies of dead and live queens; the highest amounts of fipronil were recovered in the thorax of dead queens whereas live queens had the highest levels in the head. Resurgence of polygynous ant colonies treated with hydramethylnon baits may be explained by queen survival resulting from sublethal doses due to a slowing of trophallaxis throughout the colony. The bait strategies and dose levels for controlling insect pests need to be based on the specific toxicant properties and trophic strategies for targeting the entire colony.« less

  18. Effect of Interactions between Harvester Ants on Forager Decisions

    PubMed Central

    Davidson, Jacob D.; Arauco-Aliaga, Roxana P.; Crow, Sam; Gordon, Deborah M.; Goldman, Mark S.

    2017-01-01

    Harvester ant colonies adjust their foraging activity to day-to-day changes in food availability and hour-to-hour changes in environmental conditions. This collective behavior is regulated through interactions, in the form of brief antennal contacts, between outgoing foragers and returning foragers with food. Here we consider how an ant, waiting in the entrance chamber just inside the nest entrance, uses its accumulated experience of interactions to decide whether to leave the nest to forage. Using videos of field observations, we tracked the interactions and foraging decisions of ants in the entrance chamber. Outgoing foragers tended to interact with returning foragers at higher rates than ants that returned to the deeper nest and did not forage. To provide a mechanistic framework for interpreting these results, we develop a decision model in which ants make decisions based upon a noisy accumulation of individual contacts with returning foragers. The model can reproduce core trends and realistic distributions for individual ant interaction statistics, and suggests possible mechanisms by which foraging activity may be regulated at an individual ant level. PMID:28758093

  19. Ant tending influences soldier production in a social aphid.

    PubMed

    Shingleton, A W; Foster, W A

    2000-09-22

    The aphid Pseudoregma sundanica (Van der Goot) (Homoptera: Aphididae) has two defence strategies. It is obligatorily tended by various species of ant and also produces sterile soldiers. We investigated how they allocate their investment in these two strategies. We measured the size, number of soldiers, number and species of tending ant, and number and species of predators in P. sundanica populations. We found that the level of ant tending correlated negatively with soldier investment in P. sundanica. The species of tending ant also influenced soldier investment. We excluded ants from aphid populations and recorded changes in population size and structure over four weeks. Ant exclusion led to population decline and extinction. At the same time, surviving populations showed a significant increase in soldier investment. The data demonstrate that social aphids can adjust their investment in soldiers in direct response to environmental change.

  20. Core Cutting Test with Vertical Rock Cutting Rig (VRCR)

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Yasar, Serdar; Osman Yilmaz, Ali

    2017-12-01

    Roadheaders are frequently used machines in mining and tunnelling, and performance prediction of roadheaders is important for project economics and stability. Several methods were proposed so far for this purpose and, rock cutting tests are the best choice. Rock cutting tests are generally divided into two groups which are namely, full scale rock cutting tests and small scale rock cutting tests. These two tests have some superiorities and deficiencies over themselves. However, in many cases, where rock sampling becomes problematic, small scale rock cutting test (core cutting test) is preferred for performance prediction, since small block samples and core samples can be conducted to rock cutting testing. Common problem for rock cutting tests are that they can be found in very limited research centres. In this study, a new mobile rock cutting testing equipment, vertical rock cutting rig (VRCR) was introduced. Standard testing procedure was conducted on seven rock samples which were the part of a former study on cutting rocks with another small scale rock cutting test. Results showed that core cutting test can be realized successfully with VRCR with the validation of paired samples t-test.

  1. Consuming fire ants reduces northern bobwhite survival and weight gain

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Myers, P.E.; Allen, Craig R.; Birge, Hannah E.

    2014-01-01

    Northern bobwhite quail, Colinus virginianus (L.) (Galliformes: Odontophoridae), population declines are well documented, but pinpointing the reasons for these decreases has proven elusive. Bobwhite population declines are attributed primarily to loss of habitat and land use changes. This, however, does not entirely explain population declines in areas intensively managed for bobwhites. Although previous research demonstrates the negative impact of red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta Buren) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) on northern bobwhites, the mechanisms underlying this effect are largely unknown. To meet the protein demands of early growth and development, bobwhite chicks predominantly consume small insects, of which ants are a substantial proportion. Fire ants alter ant community dynamics by often reducing native ant diversity and abundance while concurrently increasing the abundance of individuals. Fire ants have negative effects on chicks, but they are also a large potential protein source, making it difficult to disentangle their net effect on bobwhite chicks. To help investigate these effects, we conducted a laboratory experiment to understand (1) whether or not bobwhites consume fire ants, and (2) how the benefits of this consumption compare to the deleterious impacts of bobwhite chick exposure to fire ants. Sixty bobwhite chicks were separated into two groups of 30; one group was provided with starter feed only and the second group was provided with feed and fire ants. Bobwhite chicks were observed feeding on fire ants. Chicks that fed on fire ants had reduced survival and weight gain. Our results show that, while fire ants increase potential food sources for northern bobwhite, their net effect on bobwhite chicks is deleterious. This information will help inform land managers and commercial bobwhite rearing operations.

  2. The invasive ant, Solenopsis invicta, reduces herpetofauna richness and abundance

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Allen, Craig R.; Birge, Hannah E.; Slater, J.; Wiggers, E.

    2017-01-01

    Amphibians and reptiles are declining globally. One potential cause of this decline includes impacts resulting from co-occurrence with non-native red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Although a growing body of anecdotal and observational evidence from laboratory experiments supports this hypothesis, there remains a lack of field scale manipulations testing the effect of fire ants on reptile and amphibian communities. We addressed this gap by measuring reptile and amphibian (“herpetofauna”) community response to successful fire ant reductions over the course of 2 years following hydramethylnon application to five 100–200 ha plots in southeastern coastal South Carolina. By assessing changes in relative abundance and species richness of herpetofauna in response to fire ant reductions, we were able to assess whether some species were particularly vulnerable to fire ant presence, and whether this sensitivity manifested at the community level. We found that herpetofauna abundance and species richness responded positively to fire ant reductions. Our results document that even moderate populations of red imported fire ants decrease both the abundance and diversity of herpetofauna. Given global herpetofauna population declines and continued spread of fire ants, there is urgency to understand the impacts of fire ants beyond anecdotal and singles species studies. Our results provides the first community level investigation addressing these dynamics, by manipulating fire ant abundance to reveal a response in herpetofauna species abundance and richness.

  3. The AINTEGUMENTA genes, MdANT1 and MdANT2, are associated with the regulation of cell production during fruit growth in apple (Malus × domestica Borkh.)

    PubMed Central

    2012-01-01

    Background Fruit growth in apple (Malus × domestica Borkh.) is mediated by cell production and expansion. Genes involved in regulating these processes and thereby fruit growth, are not well characterized. We hypothesized that the apple homolog(s) of AINTEGUMENTA (ANT), an APETALA2–repeat containing transcription factor, regulates cell production during fruit growth in apple. Results Two ANT genes, MdANT1 and MdANT2, were isolated from apple and their expression was studied during multiple stages of fruit development. MdANT1 and MdANT2 expression was high during early fruit growth coincident with the period of cell production, rapidly declined during exit from cell production, and remained low during the rest of fruit development. The effects of increase in carbohydrate availability during fruit growth were characterized. Increase in carbohydrate availability enhanced fruit growth largely through an increase in cell production. Expression of MdANT1 and MdANT2 increased sharply by up to around 5-fold in response to an increase in carbohydrate availability. Expression of the ANT genes was compared across two apple genotypes, ‘Gala’ and ‘Golden Delicious Smoothee’ (GS), which differ in the extent of fruit growth, largely due to differences in cell production. In comparison to ‘Gala’, the larger fruit-size genotype, GS, displayed higher levels and a longer duration of MdANT1 and MdANT2 expression. Expression of the ANTs and cell cycle genes in the fruit core and cortex tissues isolated using laser capture microdissection was studied. During early fruit growth, expression of the MdANTs was higher within the cortex, the tissue that constitutes the majority of the fruit. Additionally, MdANT1 and MdANT2 expression was positively correlated with that of A- and B-type CYCLINS, B-type CYCLIN-DEPENDENT-KINASES (CDKBs) and MdDEL1. Conclusions Multiple lines of evidence from this study suggest that MdANT1 and MdANT2 regulate cell production during fruit growth in

  4. Identification of Alfalfa Leaf Diseases Using Image Recognition Technology

    PubMed Central

    Qin, Feng; Liu, Dongxia; Sun, Bingda; Ruan, Liu; Ma, Zhanhong; Wang, Haiguang

    2016-01-01

    Common leaf spot (caused by Pseudopeziza medicaginis), rust (caused by Uromyces striatus), Leptosphaerulina leaf spot (caused by Leptosphaerulina briosiana) and Cercospora leaf spot (caused by Cercospora medicaginis) are the four common types of alfalfa leaf diseases. Timely and accurate diagnoses of these diseases are critical for disease management, alfalfa quality control and the healthy development of the alfalfa industry. In this study, the identification and diagnosis of the four types of alfalfa leaf diseases were investigated using pattern recognition algorithms based on image-processing technology. A sub-image with one or multiple typical lesions was obtained by artificial cutting from each acquired digital disease image. Then the sub-images were segmented using twelve lesion segmentation methods integrated with clustering algorithms (including K_means clustering, fuzzy C-means clustering and K_median clustering) and supervised classification algorithms (including logistic regression analysis, Naive Bayes algorithm, classification and regression tree, and linear discriminant analysis). After a comprehensive comparison, the segmentation method integrating the K_median clustering algorithm and linear discriminant analysis was chosen to obtain lesion images. After the lesion segmentation using this method, a total of 129 texture, color and shape features were extracted from the lesion images. Based on the features selected using three methods (ReliefF, 1R and correlation-based feature selection), disease recognition models were built using three supervised learning methods, including the random forest, support vector machine (SVM) and K-nearest neighbor methods. A comparison of the recognition results of the models was conducted. The results showed that when the ReliefF method was used for feature selection, the SVM model built with the most important 45 features (selected from a total of 129 features) was the optimal model. For this SVM model, the

  5. Identification of Alfalfa Leaf Diseases Using Image Recognition Technology.

    PubMed

    Qin, Feng; Liu, Dongxia; Sun, Bingda; Ruan, Liu; Ma, Zhanhong; Wang, Haiguang

    2016-01-01

    Common leaf spot (caused by Pseudopeziza medicaginis), rust (caused by Uromyces striatus), Leptosphaerulina leaf spot (caused by Leptosphaerulina briosiana) and Cercospora leaf spot (caused by Cercospora medicaginis) are the four common types of alfalfa leaf diseases. Timely and accurate diagnoses of these diseases are critical for disease management, alfalfa quality control and the healthy development of the alfalfa industry. In this study, the identification and diagnosis of the four types of alfalfa leaf diseases were investigated using pattern recognition algorithms based on image-processing technology. A sub-image with one or multiple typical lesions was obtained by artificial cutting from each acquired digital disease image. Then the sub-images were segmented using twelve lesion segmentation methods integrated with clustering algorithms (including K_means clustering, fuzzy C-means clustering and K_median clustering) and supervised classification algorithms (including logistic regression analysis, Naive Bayes algorithm, classification and regression tree, and linear discriminant analysis). After a comprehensive comparison, the segmentation method integrating the K_median clustering algorithm and linear discriminant analysis was chosen to obtain lesion images. After the lesion segmentation using this method, a total of 129 texture, color and shape features were extracted from the lesion images. Based on the features selected using three methods (ReliefF, 1R and correlation-based feature selection), disease recognition models were built using three supervised learning methods, including the random forest, support vector machine (SVM) and K-nearest neighbor methods. A comparison of the recognition results of the models was conducted. The results showed that when the ReliefF method was used for feature selection, the SVM model built with the most important 45 features (selected from a total of 129 features) was the optimal model. For this SVM model, the

  6. Red imported fire ant impacts on upland arthropods in Southern Mississippi

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Epperson, D.M.; Allen, Craig R.

    2010-01-01

    Red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) have negative impacts on a broad array of invertebrate species. We investigated the impacts of fire ants on the upland arthropod community on 20???40 ha study sites in southern Mississippi. Study sites were sampled from 19972000 before, during, and after fire ant bait treatments to reduce fire ant populations. Fire ant abundance was assessed with bait transects on all sites, and fire ant population indices were estimated on a subset of study sites. Species richness and diversity of other ant species was also assessed from bait transects. Insect biomass and diversity was determined from light trap samples. Following treatments, fire ant abundance and population indices were significantly reduced, and ant species diversity and richness were greater on treated sites. Arthropod biomass, species diversity and species richness estimated from light trap samples were negatively correlated with fire ant abundance, but there were no observable treatment effects. Solenopsis invicta has the potential to negatively impact native arthropod communities resulting in a potential loss of both species and function.

  7. The acacia ants revisited: convergent evolution and biogeographic context in an iconic ant/plant mutualism

    PubMed Central

    2017-01-01

    Phylogenetic and biogeographic analyses can enhance our understanding of multispecies interactions by placing the origin and evolution of such interactions in a temporal and geographical context. We use a phylogenomic approach—ultraconserved element sequence capture—to investigate the evolutionary history of an iconic multispecies mutualism: Neotropical acacia ants (Pseudomyrmex ferrugineus group) and their associated Vachellia hostplants. In this system, the ants receive shelter and food from the host plant, and they aggressively defend the plant against herbivores and competing plants. We confirm the existence of two separate lineages of obligate acacia ants that convergently occupied Vachellia and evolved plant-protecting behaviour, from timid ancestors inhabiting dead twigs in rainforest. The more diverse of the two clades is inferred to have arisen in the Late Miocene in northern Mesoamerica, and subsequently expanded its range throughout much of Central America. The other lineage is estimated to have originated in southern Mesoamerica about 3 Myr later, apparently piggy-backing on the pre-existing mutualism. Initiation of the Pseudomyrmex/Vachellia interaction involved a shift in the ants from closed to open habitats, into an environment with more intense plant herbivory. Comparative studies of the two lineages of mutualists should provide insight into the essential features binding this mutualism. PMID:28298350

  8. Ant-plant-herbivore interactions in the neotropical cerrado savanna.

    PubMed

    Oliveira, Paulo S; Freitas, André V L

    2004-12-01

    The Brazilian cerrado savanna covers nearly 2 million km2 and has a high incidence on foliage of various liquid food sources such as extrafloral nectar and insect exudates. These liquid rewards generate intense ant activity on cerrado foliage, making ant-plant-herbivore interactions especially prevalent in this biome. We present data on the distribution and abundance of extrafloral nectaries in the woody flora of cerrado communities and in the flora of other habitats worldwide, and stress the relevance of liquid food sources (including hemipteran honeydew) for the ant fauna. Consumption by ants of plant and insect exudates significantly affects the activity of the associated herbivores of cerrado plant species, with varying impacts on the reproductive output of the plants. Experiments with an ant-plant-butterfly system unequivocally demonstrate that the behavior of both immature and adult lepidopterans is closely related to the use of a risky host plant, where intensive visitation by ants can have a severe impact on caterpillar survival. We discuss recent evidence suggesting that the occurrence of liquid rewards on leaves plays a key role in mediating the foraging ecology of foliage-dwelling ants, and that facultative ant-plant mutualisms are important in structuring the community of canopy arthropods. Ant-mediated effects on cerrado herbivore communities can be revealed by experiments performed on wide spatial scales, including many environmental factors such as soil fertility and vegetation structure. We also present some research questions that could be rewarding to investigate in this major neotropical savanna.

  9. Production scheduling with ant colony optimization

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Chernigovskiy, A. S.; Kapulin, D. V.; Noskova, E. E.; Yamskikh, T. N.; Tsarev, R. Yu

    2017-10-01

    The optimum solution of the production scheduling problem for manufacturing processes at an enterprise is crucial as it allows one to obtain the required amount of production within a specified time frame. Optimum production schedule can be found using a variety of optimization algorithms or scheduling algorithms. Ant colony optimization is one of well-known techniques to solve the global multi-objective optimization problem. In the article, the authors present a solution of the production scheduling problem by means of an ant colony optimization algorithm. A case study of the algorithm efficiency estimated against some others production scheduling algorithms is presented. Advantages of the ant colony optimization algorithm and its beneficial effect on the manufacturing process are provided.

  10. Fossil evidence for the early ant evolution

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Perrichot, Vincent; Lacau, Sébastien; Néraudeau, Didier; Nel, André

    2008-02-01

    Ants are one of the most studied insects in the world; and the literature devoted to their origin and evolution, systematics, ecology, or interactions with plants, fungi and other organisms is prolific. However, no consensus yet exists on the age estimate of the first Formicidae or on the origin of their eusociality. We review the fossil and biogeographical record of all known Cretaceous ants. We discuss the possible origin of the Formicidae with emphasis on the most primitive subfamily Sphecomyrminae according to its distribution and the Early Cretaceous palaeogeography. And we review the evidence of true castes and eusociality of the early ants regarding their morphological features and their manner of preservation in amber. The mid-Cretaceous amber forest from south-western France where some of the oldest known ants lived, corresponded to a moist tropical forest close to the shore with a dominance of gymnosperm trees but where angiosperms (flowering plants) were already diversified. This palaeoenvironmental reconstruction supports an initial radiation of ants in forest ground litter coincident with the rise of angiosperms, as recently proposed as an ecological explanation for their origin and successful evolution.

  11. The direct and ecological costs of an ant-plant symbiosis.

    PubMed

    Frederickson, Megan E; Ravenscraft, Alison; Miller, Gabriel A; Arcila Hernández, Lina M; Booth, Gregory; Pierce, Naomi E

    2012-06-01

    How strong is selection for cheating in mutualisms? The answer depends on the type and magnitude of the costs of the mutualism. Here we investigated the direct and ecological costs of plant defense by ants in the association between Cordia nodosa, a myrmecophytic plant, and Allomerus octoarticulatus, a phytoecious ant. Cordia nodosa trees produce food and housing to reward ants that protect them against herbivores. For nearly 1 year, we manipulated the presence of A. octoarticulatus ants and most insect herbivores on C. nodosa in a full-factorial experiment. Ants increased plant growth when herbivores were present but decreased plant growth when herbivores were absent, indicating that hosting ants can be costly to plants. However, we did not detect a cost to ant colonies of defending host plants against herbivores. Although this asymmetry in costs suggests that the plants may be under stronger selection than the ants to cheat by withholding investment in their partner, the costs to C. nodosa are probably at least partly ecological, arising because ants tend scale insects on their host plants. We argue that ecological costs should favor resistance or traits other than cheating and thus that neither partner may face much temptation to cheat.

  12. Impacts of Intensive Logging on the Trophic Organisation of Ant Communities in a Biodiversity Hotspot

    PubMed Central

    Woodcock, Paul; Edwards, David P.; Newton, Rob J.; Vun Khen, Chey; Bottrell, Simon H.; Hamer, Keith C.

    2013-01-01

    Trophic organisation defines the flow of energy through ecosystems and is a key component of community structure. Widespread and intensifying anthropogenic disturbance threatens to disrupt trophic organisation by altering species composition and relative abundances and by driving shifts in the trophic ecology of species that persist in disturbed ecosystems. We examined how intensive disturbance caused by selective logging affects trophic organisation in the biodiversity hotspot of Sabah, Borneo. Using stable nitrogen isotopes, we quantified the positions in the food web of 159 leaf-litter ant species in unlogged and logged rainforest and tested four predictions: (i) there is a negative relationship between the trophic position of a species in unlogged forest and its change in abundance following logging, (ii) the trophic positions of species are altered by logging, (iii) disturbance alters the frequency distribution of trophic positions within the ant assemblage, and (iv) disturbance reduces food chain length. We found that ant abundance was 30% lower in logged forest than in unlogged forest but changes in abundance of individual species were not related to trophic position, providing no support for prediction (i). However, trophic positions of individual species were significantly higher in logged forest, supporting prediction (ii). Consequently, the frequency distribution of trophic positions differed significantly between unlogged and logged forest, supporting prediction (iii), and food chains were 0.2 trophic levels longer in logged forest, the opposite of prediction (iv). Our results demonstrate that disturbance can alter trophic organisation even without trophically-biased changes in community composition. Nonetheless, the absence of any reduction in food chain length in logged forest suggests that species-rich arthropod food webs do not experience trophic downgrading or a related collapse in trophic organisation despite the disturbance caused by logging

  13. Impacts of intensive logging on the trophic organisation of ant communities in a biodiversity hotspot.

    PubMed

    Woodcock, Paul; Edwards, David P; Newton, Rob J; Vun Khen, Chey; Bottrell, Simon H; Hamer, Keith C

    2013-01-01

    Trophic organisation defines the flow of energy through ecosystems and is a key component of community structure. Widespread and intensifying anthropogenic disturbance threatens to disrupt trophic organisation by altering species composition and relative abundances and by driving shifts in the trophic ecology of species that persist in disturbed ecosystems. We examined how intensive disturbance caused by selective logging affects trophic organisation in the biodiversity hotspot of Sabah, Borneo. Using stable nitrogen isotopes, we quantified the positions in the food web of 159 leaf-litter ant species in unlogged and logged rainforest and tested four predictions: (i) there is a negative relationship between the trophic position of a species in unlogged forest and its change in abundance following logging, (ii) the trophic positions of species are altered by logging, (iii) disturbance alters the frequency distribution of trophic positions within the ant assemblage, and (iv) disturbance reduces food chain length. We found that ant abundance was 30% lower in logged forest than in unlogged forest but changes in abundance of individual species were not related to trophic position, providing no support for prediction (i). However, trophic positions of individual species were significantly higher in logged forest, supporting prediction (ii). Consequently, the frequency distribution of trophic positions differed significantly between unlogged and logged forest, supporting prediction (iii), and food chains were 0.2 trophic levels longer in logged forest, the opposite of prediction (iv). Our results demonstrate that disturbance can alter trophic organisation even without trophically-biased changes in community composition. Nonetheless, the absence of any reduction in food chain length in logged forest suggests that species-rich arthropod food webs do not experience trophic downgrading or a related collapse in trophic organisation despite the disturbance caused by logging

  14. Exploring with PAM: Prospecting ANTS Missions for Solar System Surveys

    NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)

    Clark, P. E.; Rilee, M. L.; Curtis, S. A.

    2003-01-01

    ANTS (Autonomous Nano-Technology Swarm), a large (1000 member) swarm of nano to picoclass (10 to 1 kg) totally autonomous spacecraft, are being developed as a NASA advanced mission concept. ANTS, based on a hierarchical insect social order, use an evolvable, self-similar, hierarchical neural system in which individual spacecraft represent the highest level nodes. ANTS uses swarm intelligence attained through collective, cooperative interactions of the nodes at all levels of the system. At the highest levels this can take the form of cooperative, collective behavior among the individual spacecraft in a very large constellation. The ANTS neural architecture is designed for totally autonomous operation of complex systems including spacecraft constellations. The ANTS (Autonomous Nano Technology Swarm) concept has a number of possible applications. A version of ANTS designed for surveying and determining the resource potential of the asteroid belt, called PAM (Prospecting ANTS Mission), is examined here.

  15. Stridulations Reveal Cryptic Speciation in Neotropical Sympatric Ants

    PubMed Central

    Ferreira, Ronara Souza; Poteaux, Chantal; Delabie, Jacques Hubert Charles; Fresneau, Dominique; Rybak, Fanny

    2010-01-01

    The taxonomic challenge posed by cryptic species underlines the importance of using multiple criteria in species delimitation. In the current paper we tested the use of acoustic analysis as a tool to assess the real diversity in a cryptic species complex of Neotropical ants. In order to understand the potential of acoustics and to improve consistency in the conclusions by comparing different approaches, phylogenetic relationships of all the morphs considered were assessed by the analysis of a fragment of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b. We observed that each of the cryptic morph studied presents a morphologically distinct stridulatory organ and that all sympatric morphs produce distinctive stridulations. This is the first evidence of such a degree of specialization in the acoustic organ and signals in ants, which suggests that stridulations may be among the cues used by these ants during inter-specific interactions. Mitochondrial DNA variation corroborated the acoustic differences observed, confirming acoustics as a helpful tool to determine cryptic species in this group of ants, and possibly in stridulating ants in general. Congruent morphological, acoustic and genetic results constitute sufficient evidence to propose each morph studied here as a valid new species, suggesting that P. apicalis is a complex of at least 6 to 9 species, even if they present different levels of divergence. Finally, our results highlight that ant stridulations may be much more informative than hitherto thought, as much for ant communication as for integrative taxonomists. PMID:21203529

  16. Twice cutting method reduces tibial cutting error in unicompartmental knee arthroplasty.

    PubMed

    Inui, Hiroshi; Taketomi, Shuji; Yamagami, Ryota; Sanada, Takaki; Tanaka, Sakae

    2016-01-01

    Bone cutting error can be one of the causes of malalignment in unicompartmental knee arthroplasty (UKA). The amount of cutting error in total knee arthroplasty has been reported. However, none have investigated cutting error in UKA. The purpose of this study was to reveal the amount of cutting error in UKA when open cutting guide was used and clarify whether cutting the tibia horizontally twice using the same cutting guide reduced the cutting errors in UKA. We measured the alignment of the tibial cutting guides, the first-cut cutting surfaces and the second cut cutting surfaces using the navigation system in 50 UKAs. Cutting error was defined as the angular difference between the cutting guide and cutting surface. The mean absolute first-cut cutting error was 1.9° (1.1° varus) in the coronal plane and 1.1° (0.6° anterior slope) in the sagittal plane, whereas the mean absolute second-cut cutting error was 1.1° (0.6° varus) in the coronal plane and 1.1° (0.4° anterior slope) in the sagittal plane. Cutting the tibia horizontally twice reduced the cutting errors in the coronal plane significantly (P<0.05). Our study demonstrated that in UKA, cutting the tibia horizontally twice using the same cutting guide reduced cutting error in the coronal plane. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

  17. Larger temperature response of autumn leaf senescence than spring leaf-out phenology.

    PubMed

    Fu, Yongshuo H; Piao, Shilong; Delpierre, Nicolas; Hao, Fanghua; Hänninen, Heikki; Liu, Yongjie; Sun, Wenchao; Janssens, Ivan A; Campioli, Matteo

    2018-05-01

    Climate warming is substantially shifting the leaf phenological events of plants, and thereby impacting on their individual fitness and also on the structure and functioning of ecosystems. Previous studies have largely focused on the climate impact on spring phenology, and to date the processes underlying leaf senescence and their associated environmental drivers remain poorly understood. In this study, experiments with temperature gradients imposed during the summer and autumn were conducted on saplings of European beech to explore the temperature responses of leaf senescence. An additional warming experiment during winter enabled us to assess the differences in temperature responses of spring leaf-out and autumn leaf senescence. We found that warming significantly delayed the dates of leaf senescence both during summer and autumn warming, with similar temperature sensitivities (6-8 days delay per °C warming), suggesting that, in the absence of water and nutrient limitation, temperature may be a dominant factor controlling the leaf senescence in European beech. Interestingly, we found a significantly larger temperature response of autumn leaf senescence than of spring leaf-out. This suggests a possible larger contribution of delays in autumn senescence, than of the advancement in spring leaf-out, to extending the growing season under future warmer conditions. © 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

  18. A tree island approach to inferring phylogeny in the ant subfamily Formicinae, with especial reference to the evolution of weaving.

    PubMed

    Johnson, Rebecca N; Agapow, Paul-Michael; Crozier, Ross H

    2003-11-01

    The ant subfamily Formicinae is a large assemblage (2458 species (J. Nat. Hist. 29 (1995) 1037), including species that weave leaf nests together with larval silk and in which the metapleural gland-the ancestrally defining ant character-has been secondarily lost. We used sequences from two mitochondrial genes (cytochrome b and cytochrome oxidase 2) from 18 formicine and 4 outgroup taxa to derive a robust phylogeny, employing a search for tree islands using 10000 randomly constructed trees as starting points and deriving a maximum likelihood consensus tree from the ML tree and those not significantly different from it. Non-parametric bootstrapping showed that the ML consensus tree fit the data significantly better than three scenarios based on morphology, with that of Bolton (Identification Guide to the Ant Genera of the World, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA) being the best among these alternative trees. Trait mapping showed that weaving had arisen at least four times and possibly been lost once. A maximum likelihood analysis showed that loss of the metapleural gland is significantly associated with the weaver life-pattern. The graph of the frequencies with which trees were discovered versus their likelihood indicates that trees with high likelihoods have much larger basins of attraction than those with lower likelihoods. While this result indicates that single searches are more likely to find high- than low-likelihood tree islands, it also indicates that searching only for the single best tree may lose important information.

  19. Electric ants: A cross-disciplinary approach to understanding insect behavior

    SciTech Connect

    Slowik, T.J.; Thorvilson, H.G.; Green, B.L.

    1996-12-31

    The response and attraction of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, to electrical equipment was examined using an interdisciplinary approach. Entomologists specializing in fire ant behavior combined expertise with electrical engineers to investigate the economically damaging interaction of fire ants with electrical circuitry. Knowledge from the realms of physics, engineering, and biology were integrated in experimentation to test for a fire ant response to electric fields and magnetic fields associated with electrical equipment. It was determined that fire ants react to electrified conductive material and the alternating-current magnetic fields associated with electricity.

  20. Navigation in wood ants Formica japonica: context dependent use of landmarks.

    PubMed

    Fukushi, Tsukasa; Wehner, Rüdiger

    2004-09-01

    Wood ants Formica japonica can steer their outbound (foraging) and inbound (homing) courses without using celestial compass information, by relying exclusively on landmark cues. This is shown by training ants to run back and forth between the nest and an artificial feeder, and later displacing the trained ants either from the nest (when starting their foraging runs: outbound full-vector ants) or from the feeder (when starting their home runs: inbound full-vector ants) to various nearby release sites. In addition, ants that have already completed their foraging and homing runs are displaced after arrival either at the feeder (outbound zero-vector ants) or at the nest (inbound zero-vector ants), respectively, to the very same release sites. Upon release, the full-vector ants steer their straight courses by referring to panoramic landmark cues, while the zero-vector ants presented with the very same visual scenery immediately search for local landmark cues defining their final goal. Hence, it depends on the context, in this case on the state of the forager's round-trip cycle, what visual cues are picked out from a given set of landmarks and used for navigation.

  1. Improved Ant Algorithms for Software Testing Cases Generation

    PubMed Central

    Yang, Shunkun; Xu, Jiaqi

    2014-01-01

    Existing ant colony optimization (ACO) for software testing cases generation is a very popular domain in software testing engineering. However, the traditional ACO has flaws, as early search pheromone is relatively scarce, search efficiency is low, search model is too simple, positive feedback mechanism is easy to porduce the phenomenon of stagnation and precocity. This paper introduces improved ACO for software testing cases generation: improved local pheromone update strategy for ant colony optimization, improved pheromone volatilization coefficient for ant colony optimization (IPVACO), and improved the global path pheromone update strategy for ant colony optimization (IGPACO). At last, we put forward a comprehensive improved ant colony optimization (ACIACO), which is based on all the above three methods. The proposed technique will be compared with random algorithm (RND) and genetic algorithm (GA) in terms of both efficiency and coverage. The results indicate that the improved method can effectively improve the search efficiency, restrain precocity, promote case coverage, and reduce the number of iterations. PMID:24883391

  2. Egg-laying butterflies distinguish predaceous ants by sight.

    PubMed

    Sendoya, Sebastián F; Freitas, André V L; Oliveira, Paulo S

    2009-07-01

    Information about predation risks is critical for herbivorous insects, and natural selection favors their ability to detect predators before oviposition and to select enemy-free foliage when offspring mortality risk is high. Food plants are selected by ovipositing butterflies, and offspring survival frequently varies among plants because of variation in the presence of predators. Eunica bechina butterflies oviposit on Caryocar brasiliense, an ant-defended plant. Experiments with dried Camponotus and Cephalotes ants pinned to leaves revealed that butterflies use ant size and form as visual cues to avoid ovipositing on plant parts occupied by ants more likely to kill larval offspring. Presence of sap-sucking bugs did not affect butterfly oviposition. This is the first demonstration that visual recognition of predators can mediate egg-laying decisions by an insect herbivore and that an insect will discriminate among different species of potential predators. This unusual behavioral capability permits specialization on a risky, ant-defended food plant.

  3. Extrafloral nectar content alters foraging preferences of a predatory ant

    PubMed Central

    Wilder, Shawn M.; Eubanks, Micky D.

    2010-01-01

    We tested whether the carbohydrate and amino acid content of extrafloral nectar affected prey choice by a predatory ant. Fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, were provided with artificial nectar that varied in the presence of carbohydrates and amino acids and were then provided with two prey items that differed in nutritional content, female and male crickets. Colonies of fire ants provided with carbohydrate supplements consumed less of the female crickets and frequently did not consume the high-lipid ovaries of female crickets. Colonies of fire ants provided with amino acid supplements consumed less of the male crickets. While a number of studies have shown that the presence of extrafloral nectar or honeydew can affect ant foraging activity, these results suggest that the nutritional composition of extrafloral nectar is also important and can affect subsequent prey choice by predatory ants. Our results suggest that, by altering the composition of extrafloral nectar, plants could manipulate the prey preferences of ants foraging on them. PMID:19864270

  4. Free and constrained expansion of fire ant aggregations

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Fernandez-Nieves, Alberto; Anderson, Caleb

    We revisit the classical free and constrained expansion of ideal gases with fire ant aggregations. We use rectangular parallel plates to confine fire ants to two-dimensions and watch how these expand when the plates are horizontal or when these are vertical. In the first case, the ants expand in a rather disorganized fashion, while in the second case, when there is work involved, the expansion is rather organized. The behavior is reminiscent of what is expected from the so called reversible process theorems of classical thermodynamics despite the ant aggregation is intrinsically out of equilibrium. This talk will focus on these results and in related observations in the same experimental setting.

  5. Efficient Egress of Escaping Ants Stressed with Temperature

    PubMed Central

    Boari, Santiago; Josens, Roxana; Parisi, Daniel R.

    2013-01-01

    In the present work we investigate the egress times of a group of Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) stressed with different heating speeds. We found that the higher the temperature ramp is, the faster ants evacuate showing, in this sense, a group-efficient evacuation strategy. It is important to note that even when the life of ants was in danger, jamming and clogging was not observed near the exit, in accordance with other experiments reported in the literature using citronella as aversive stimuli. Because of this clear difference between ants and humans, we recommend the use of some other animal models for studying competitive egress dynamics as a more accurate approach to understanding competitive egress in human systems. PMID:24312264

  6. Wolbachia transmission dynamics in Formica wood ants

    PubMed Central

    2008-01-01

    Background The role of Wolbachia endosymbionts in shaping the mitochondrial diversity of their arthropod host depends on the effects they have on host reproduction and on the mode of transmission of the bacteria. We have compared the sequence diversity of wsp (Wolbachia surface protein gene) and the host mtDNA in a group of Formica ant species that have diverged approximately 0.5 million years ago (MYA). The aim was to study the relationship of Wolbachia and its ant hosts in terms of vertical and horizontal transmission of the bacteria. Results All studied ant species were doubly infected with two Wolbachia strains (wFex1 and wFex4) all over their geographical distribution area in Eurasia. The most common haplotypes of these strains were identical with strains previously described from a more distantly related Formica ant, with an estimated divergence time of 3.5 – 4 MYA. Some strain haplotypes were associated to the same or closely related mtDNA haplotypes as expected under vertical transmission. However, in several cases the wsp haplotypes coexisted with distant mtDNA haplotypes, a pattern which is more compatible with horizontal transmission of the bacteria. Conclusion Two lines of evidence suggest that the sharing of Wolbachia strains by all F. rufa species is rather due to horizontal than vertical transmission. First, the fact that endosymbiont strains identical to those of F. rufa ants have been found in another species that diverged 3.5–4 MYA strongly suggests that horizontal transfer can and does occur between Formica ants. Second, the frequent sharing of identical Wolbachia strains by distant mitochondrial lineages within the F. rufa group further shows that horizontal transmission has occurred repeatedly. Nevertheless, our dataset also provides some evidence for longer-term persistence of infection, indicating that Wolbachia infection within this host clade has been shaped by both horizontal and vertical transmission of symbionts. The fact that all

  7. Horned lizards (Phrynosoma) incapacitate dangerous ant prey with mucus.

    PubMed

    Sherbrooke, Wade C; Schwenk, Kurt

    2008-10-01

    Horned lizards (Iguanidae, Phrynosomatinae, Phrynosoma) are morphologically specialized reptiles characterized by squat, tank-like bodies, short limbs, blunt snouts, spines and cranial horns, among other traits. They are unusual among lizards in the degree to which they specialize on a diet of ants, but exceptional in the number of pugnacious, highly venomous, stinging ants they consume, especially harvester ants (genus Pogonomyrmex). Like other iguanian lizards, they capture insect prey on the tongue, but unlike other lizards, they neither bite nor chew dangerous prey before swallowing. Instead, they employ a unique kinematic pattern in which prey capture, transport and swallowing are combined. Nevertheless, horned lizards consume dozens of harvester ants without harm. We show that their derived feeding kinematics are associated with unique, mucus-secreting pharyngeal papillae that apparently serve to immobilize and incapacitate dangerous ants as they are swallowed by compacting them and binding them in mucus strands. Radially branched esophageal folds provide additional mucus-secreting surfaces the ants pass through as they are swallowed. Ants extracted from fresh-killed horned lizard stomachs are curled ventrally into balls and bound in mucus. We conclude that the pharyngeal papillae, in association with a unique form of hyolingual prey transport and swallowing, are horned lizard adaptations related to a diet of dangerous prey. Harvester ant defensive weapons, along with horned lizard adaptations against such weapons, suggest a long-term, predator-prey, co-evolutionary arms race between Phrynosoma and Pogonomyrmex. Copyright 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

  8. Extrafloral nectar production of the ant-associated plant, Macaranga tanarius, is an induced, indirect, defensive response elicited by jasmonic acid

    PubMed Central

    Heil, Martin; Koch, Thomas; Hilpert, Andrea; Fiala, Brigitte; Boland, Wilhelm; Linsenmair, K. Eduard

    2001-01-01

    Plant species in at least 66 families produce extrafloral nectar (EFN) on their leaves or shoots and therewith attract predators and parasitoids, such as ants and wasps, which in turn defend them against herbivores. We investigated whether EFN secretion is induced by herbivory and/or artificial damage, and thus can be regarded as an induced defensive response. In addition, we studied the underlying signaling pathway. EFN secretion by field-grown Macaranga tanarius increased after herbivory, artificial leaf damage, and exogenous jasmonic acid (JA) application. Artificial damage strongly enhanced endogenous JA concentrations. The response in EFN production to artificial damage was much less pronounced in those leaves that were treated with phenidone to inhibit endogenous JA synthesis. Quantitative dose–response relations were found between the increase in nectar production and both the intensity of leaf damage and the amounts of exogenously applied JA. The amount of endogenously produced JA was positively correlated with the intensity of leaf damage. Increased numbers of defending insects and decreased numbers of herbivores were observed on leaves after inducing EFN production by exogenous JA treatment. Over 6 weeks, repeatedly applied JA or artificial damage resulted in a ten-fold reduction in herbivory. These results demonstrate that EFN production represents an alternative mechanism for induced, indirect defensive plant responses that are mediated via the octadecanoid signal transduction cascade. PMID:11158598

  9. Looking and homing: how displaced ants decide where to go.

    PubMed

    Zeil, Jochen; Narendra, Ajay; Stürzl, Wolfgang

    2014-01-01

    We caught solitary foragers of the Australian Jack Jumper ant, Myrmecia croslandi, and released them in three compass directions at distances of 10 and 15 m from the nest at locations they have never been before. We recorded the head orientation and the movements of ants within a radius of 20 cm from the release point and, in some cases, tracked their subsequent paths with a differential GPS. We find that upon surfacing from their transport vials onto a release platform, most ants move into the home direction after looking around briefly. The ants use a systematic scanning procedure, consisting of saccadic head and body rotations that sweep gaze across the scene with an average angular velocity of 90° s(-1) and intermittent changes in turning direction. By mapping the ants' gaze directions onto the local panorama, we find that neither the ants' gaze nor their decisions to change turning direction are clearly associated with salient or significant features in the scene. Instead, the ants look most frequently in the home direction and start walking fast when doing so. Displaced ants can thus identify home direction with little translation, but exclusively through rotational scanning. We discuss the navigational information content of the ants' habitat and how the insects' behaviour informs us about how they may acquire and retrieve that information.

  10. Local and Landscape Drivers of Ant Parasitism in a Coffee Landscape.

    PubMed

    De la Mora, Aldo; Pérez-Lachaud, Gabriela; Lachaud, Jean-Paul; Philpott, Stacy M

    2015-08-01

    Parasitism of ants that nest in rotting wood by eucharitid wasps was studied in order to examine whether habitat and season influence ant parasitism, vegetation complexity and agrochemical use correlate with ant parasitism, and whether specific local and landscape features of agricultural landscapes correlate with changes in ant parasitism. In a coffee landscape, 30 coffee and 10 forest sites were selected in which local management (e.g., vegetation, agrochemical use) and landscape features (e.g., distance to forest, percent of rustic coffee nearby) were characterized. Rotten logs were sampled and ant cocoons were collected from logs and cocoons were monitored for parasitoid emergence. Sixteen ant morphospecies in three ant subfamilies (Ectatomminae, Ponerinae, and Formicinae) were found. Seven ant species parasitized by two genera of Eucharitidae parasitoids (Kapala and Obeza) were reported and some ant-eucharitid associations were new. According to evaluated metrics, parasitism did not differ with habitat (forest, high-shade coffee, low-shade coffee), but did increase in the dry season for Gnamptogenys ants. Parasitism increased with vegetation complexity for Gnamptogenys and Pachycondyla and was high in sites with both high and low agrochemical use. Two landscape variables and two local factors positively correlated with parasitism for some ant genera and species. Thus, differences in vegetation complexity at the local and landscape scale and agrochemical use in coffee landscapes alter ecological interactions between parasitoids and their ant hosts. © The Authors 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Entomological Society of America. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.

  11. Detection and dispersal of explosives by ants

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    McFee, John E.; Achal, Steve; Faust, Anthony A.; Puckrin, Eldon; House, Andrew; Reynolds, Damon; McDougall, William; Asquini, Adam

    2009-05-01

    The ability of animals to detect explosives is well documented. Mammalian systems, insects and even single celled organisms have all been studied and in a few cases employed to detect explosives. This paper will describe the potential ability of ants to detect, disperse and possibly neutralize bulk explosives. In spring 2008 a team of DRDC and Itres scientists conducted experiments on detecting surface-laid and buried landmines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and their components. Measurements were made using state-of-the-art short wave and thermal infrared hyperspectral imagers mounted on a personnel lift. During one of the early morning measurement sessions, a wispy, long linear trail was seen to emanate several meters from piles of explosives that were situated on the ground. Upon close visual inspection, it was observed that ants had found the piles of explosives and were carrying it to their ant hill, a distance of almost 20 meters from the piles. Initial analysis of the hyperspectral images clearly revealed the trail to the ant hill of explosives, despite being present in quantities not visible to the unaided eye. This paper details these observations and discusses them in the context of landmine and IED detection and neutralization. Possible reasons for such behaviour are presented. A number of questions regarding the behaviour, many pertinent to the use of ants in a counter-landmine/IED role, are presented and possible methods of answering them are discussed. Anecdotal evidence from deminers of detection and destruction of explosives by ants are presented.

  12. Ant exclusion in citrus over an 8-year period reveals a pervasive yet changing effect of ants on a Mediterranean spider assemblage.

    PubMed

    Mestre, L; Piñol, J; Barrientos, J A; Espadaler, X

    2013-09-01

    Ants and spiders are ubiquitous generalist predators that exert top-down control on herbivore populations. Research shows that intraguild interactions between ants and spiders can negatively affect spider populations, but there is a lack of long-term research documenting the strength of such interactions and the potentially different effects of ants on the diverse array of species in a spider assemblage. Similarly, the suitability of family-level surrogates for finding patterns revealed by species-level data (taxonomic sufficiency) has almost never been tested in spider assemblages. We present a long-term study in which we tested the impact of ants on the spider assemblage of a Mediterranean citrus grove by performing sequential 1-year experimental exclusions on tree canopies for 8 years. We found that ants had a widespread influence on the spider assemblage, although the effect was only evident in the last 5 years of the study. During those years, ants negatively affected many spiders, and effects were especially strong for sedentary spiders. Analyses at the family level also detected assemblage differences between treatments, but they concealed the different responses to ant exclusion shown by some related spider species. Our findings show that the effects of experimental manipulations in ecology can vary greatly over time and highlight the need for long-term studies to document species interactions.

  13. Niches and coexistence of ant communities in Puerto Rico

    Treesearch

    J.A. Torres

    1984-01-01

    I studied ant coexistence in adjacent areas of upland tropical forest, grassland, and agricultural land in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico. Data on food utilization, daily activity, nesting sites, microhabitat utilization and interspecific aggression were collected. Ants' tolerance to 45 degree C was determined in the laboratory. Agricultural and grassland ants eat grain...

  14. Ant-mediated seed dispersal in a warmed world

    PubMed Central

    Patterson, Courtney M.; Rodriguez-Cabal, Mariano A.; Ribbons, Relena R.; Dunn, Robert R.; Sanders, Nathan J.

    2014-01-01

    Climate change affects communities both directly and indirectly via changes in interspecific interactions. One such interaction that may be altered under climate change is the ant-plant seed dispersal mutualism common in deciduous forests of eastern North America. As climatic warming alters the abundance and activity levels of ants, the potential exists for shifts in rates of ant-mediated seed dispersal. We used an experimental temperature manipulation at two sites in the eastern US (Harvard Forest in Massachusetts and Duke Forest in North Carolina) to examine the potential impacts of climatic warming on overall rates of seed dispersal (using Asarum canadense seeds) as well as species-specific rates of seed dispersal at the Duke Forest site. We also examined the relationship between ant critical thermal maxima (CTmax) and the mean seed removal temperature for each ant species. We found that seed removal rates did not change as a result of experimental warming at either study site, nor were there any changes in species-specific rates of seed dispersal. There was, however, a positive relationship between CTmax and mean seed removal temperature, whereby species with higher CTmax removed more seeds at hotter temperatures. The temperature at which seeds were removed was influenced by experimental warming as well as diurnal and day-to-day fluctuations in temperature. Taken together, our results suggest that while temperature may play a role in regulating seed removal by ants, ant plant seed-dispersal mutualisms may be more robust to climate change than currently assumed. PMID:24688863

  15. Just follow your nose: homing by olfactory cues in ants.

    PubMed

    Steck, Kathrin

    2012-04-01

    How is an ant-equipped with a brain that barely exceeds the size of a pinhead-capable of achieving navigational marvels? Even though evidences suggest that navigation is a multimodal process, ants heavily depend on olfactory cues-of pheromonal and non-pheromonal nature-for foraging and orientation. Recent studies have directed their attention to the efficiency of pheromone trail networks. Advances in neurophysiological techniques make it possible to investigate trail pheromone processing in the ant's brain. In addition to relying on pheromone odours, ants also make use of volatiles emanating from the nest surroundings. Deposited in the vicinity of the nest, these home-range markings help the ants to home after a foraging run. Furthermore, olfactory landmarks associated with the nest enhance ants' homing abilities. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

  16. Arboreal ant colonies as 'hot-points' of cryptic diversity for myrmecophiles: the weaver ant Camponotus sp. aff. textor and its interaction network with its associates.

    PubMed

    Pérez-Lachaud, Gabriela; Lachaud, Jean-Paul

    2014-01-01

    Systematic surveys of macrofaunal diversity within ant colonies are lacking, particularly for ants nesting in microhabitats that are difficult to sample. Species associated with ants are generally small and rarely collected organisms, which makes them more likely to be unnoticed. We assumed that this tendency is greater for arthropod communities in microhabitats with low accessibility, such as those found in the nests of arboreal ants that may constitute a source of cryptic biodiversity. We investigated the invertebrate diversity associated with an undescribed, but already threatened, Neotropical Camponotus weaver ant. As most of the common sampling methods used in studies of ant diversity are not suited for evaluating myrmecophile diversity within ant nests, we evaluated the macrofauna within ant nests through exhaustive colony sampling of three nests and examination of more than 80,000 individuals. We identified invertebrates from three classes belonging to 18 taxa, some of which were new to science, and recorded the first instance of the co-occurrence of two brood parasitoid wasp families attacking the same ant host colony. This diversity of ant associates corresponded to a highly complex interaction network. Agonistic interactions prevailed, but the prevalence of myrmecophiles was remarkably low. Our data support the hypothesis of the evolution of low virulence in a variety of symbionts associated with large insect societies. Because most myrmecophiles found in this work are rare, strictly specific, and exhibit highly specialized biology, the risk of extinction for these hitherto unknown invertebrates and their natural enemies is high. The cryptic, far unappreciated diversity within arboreal ant nests in areas at high risk of habitat loss qualifies these nests as 'hot-points' of biodiversity that urgently require special attention as a component of conservation and management programs.

  17. Gene Expression Profile Analysis is Directly Affected by the Selected Reference Gene: The Case of Leaf-Cutting Atta Sexdens

    PubMed Central

    Máximo, Wesley P. F.; Zanetti, Ronald; Paiva, Luciano V.

    2018-01-01

    Although several ant species are important targets for the development of molecular control strategies, only a few studies focus on identifying and validating reference genes for quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) data normalization. We provide here an extensive study to identify and validate suitable reference genes for gene expression analysis in the ant Atta sexdens, a threatening agricultural pest in South America. The optimal number of reference genes varies according to each sample and the result generated by RefFinder differed about which is the most suitable reference gene. Results suggest that the RPS16, NADH and SDHB genes were the best reference genes in the sample pool according to stability values. The SNF7 gene expression pattern was stable in all evaluated sample set. In contrast, when using less stable reference genes for normalization a large variability in SNF7 gene expression was recorded. There is no universal reference gene suitable for all conditions under analysis, since these genes can also participate in different cellular functions, thus requiring a systematic validation of possible reference genes for each specific condition. The choice of reference genes on SNF7 gene normalization confirmed that unstable reference genes might drastically change the expression profile analysis of target candidate genes. PMID:29419794

  18. Testing Of Choiced Ceramics Cutting Tools At Irregular Interrupted Cut

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Kyncl, Ladislav; Malotová, Šárka; Nováček, Pavel; Nicielnik, Henryk; Šoková, Dagmar; Hemžský, Pavel; Pitela, David; Holubjak, Jozef

    2015-12-01

    This article discusses the test of removable ceramic cutting inserts during machining irregular interrupted cut. Tests were performed on a lathe, with the preparation which simulated us the interrupted cut. By changing the number of plates mounted in a preparation it simulate us a regular or irregular interrupted cut. When with four plates it was regular interrupted cut, the remaining three variants were already irregular cut. It was examined whether it will have the irregular interrupted cutting effect on the insert and possibly how it will change life of inserts during irregular interrupted cut (variable delay between shocks).

  19. Urban Pest Management of Ants in California

    USDA-ARS?s Scientific Manuscript database

    Keeping pace with the dynamic and evolving landscape of invasive ants in California presents a formidable challenge to the pest management industry. Pest management professionals (PMPs) are on the frontlines when it comes to battling these exotic ant pests, and are often the first ones to intercept ...

  20. Structure and formation of ant transportation networks

    PubMed Central

    Latty, Tanya; Ramsch, Kai; Ito, Kentaro; Nakagaki, Toshiyuki; Sumpter, David J. T.; Middendorf, Martin; Beekman, Madeleine

    2011-01-01

    Many biological systems use extensive networks for the transport of resources and information. Ants are no exception. How do biological systems achieve efficient transportation networks in the absence of centralized control and without global knowledge of the environment? Here, we address this question by studying the formation and properties of inter-nest transportation networks in the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile). We find that the formation of inter-nest networks depends on the number of ants involved in the construction process. When the number of ants is sufficient and networks do form, they tend to have short total length but a low level of robustness. These networks are topologically similar to either minimum spanning trees or Steiner networks. The process of network formation involves an initial construction of multiple links followed by a pruning process that reduces the number of trails. Our study thus illuminates the conditions under and the process by which minimal biological transport networks can be constructed. PMID:21288958

  1. Suppressing tawny crazy ant (Nylanderia fulva) by RNAi technology.

    PubMed

    Meng, Jia; Lei, Jiaxin; Davitt, Andrew; Holt, Jocelyn R; Huang, Jian; Gold, Roger; Vargo, Edward L; Tarone, Aaron M; Zhu-Salzman, Keyan

    2018-05-22

    The tawny crazy ant (Nylanderia fulva) is a new invasive pest in the United States. At present, its management mainly relies on the use of synthetic insecticides, which are generally ineffective at producing lasting control of the pest, necessitating alternative environmentally friendly measures. In this study, we evaluated the feasibility of gene silencing to control this ant species. Six housekeeping genes encoding actin (NfActin), coatomer subunit β (NfCOPβ), arginine kinase (NfArgK), and V-type proton ATPase subunits A (NfvATPaseA), B (NfvATPaseB) and E (NfvATPaseE) were cloned. Phylogenetic analysis revealed high sequence similarity to homologs from other ant species, particularly the Florida carpenter ant (Camponotus floridanus). To silence these genes, vector L4440 was used to generate 6 specific RNAi constructs for bacterial expression. Heat-inactivated, dsRNA-expressing Escherichia coli were incorporated into artificial diet. Worker ants exhibited reduced endogenous gene expression after feeding on such diet for 9 days. However, only ingestion of dsRNAs of NfCOPβ (a gene involved in protein trafficking) and NfArgK (a cellular energy reserve regulatory gene in invertebrates) caused modest but significantly higher ant mortality than the control. These results suggest that bacterially expressed dsRNA can be orally delivered to ant cells as a mean to target its vulnerabilities. Improved efficacy is necessary for the RNAi-based approach to be useful in tawny crazy ant management. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

  2. Neuromodulation of Nestmate Recognition Decisions by Pavement Ants.

    PubMed

    Bubak, Andrew N; Yaeger, Jazmine D W; Renner, Kenneth J; Swallow, John G; Greene, Michael J

    2016-01-01

    Ant colonies are distributed systems that are regulated in a non-hierarchical manner. Without a central authority, individuals inform their decisions by comparing information in local cues to a set of inherent behavioral rules. Individual behavioral decisions collectively change colony behavior and lead to self-organization capable of solving complex problems such as the decision to engage in aggressive societal conflicts with neighbors. Despite the relevance to colony fitness, the mechanisms that drive individual decisions leading to cooperative behavior are not well understood. Here we show how sensory information, both tactile and chemical, and social context-isolation, nestmate interaction, or fighting non-nestmates-affects brain monoamine levels in pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum). Our results provide evidence that changes in octopamine and serotonin in the brains of individuals are sufficient to alter the decision by pavement ants to be aggressive towards non-nestmate ants whereas increased brain levels of dopamine correlate to physical fighting. We propose a model in which the changes in brain states of many workers collectively lead to the self-organization of societal aggression between neighboring colonies of pavement ants.

  3. Five new records of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) for Nebraska

    USGS Publications Warehouse

    Nemec, Kristine T.; Trager, James C.; Manley, Elizabeth; Allen, Craig R.

    2012-01-01

    Ants are ubiquitous and influential organisms in terrestrial ecosystems. About 1,000 ant species occur in North America, where they are found in nearly every habitat (Fisher and Cover 2007). Ants are critical to ecological processes and structure. Ants affect soils via tunneling activity (Baxter and Hole 1967), disperse plant seeds (Lengyel et al. 2009), prey upon a variety of insects and other invertebrates (Way and Khoo 1992, Folgarait 1998), are often effective primary consumers through their prodigious consumption of floral and especially extrafloral nectar, and honeydew (Tobin 1994), and serve as prey for invertebrates (Gotelli 1996, Gastreich 1999) and vertebrates (Reiss 2001).

  4. Colony Fusion in a Parthenogenetic Ant, Pristomyrmex punctatus

    PubMed Central

    Satow, Show; Satoh, Toshiyuki; Hirota, Tadao

    2013-01-01

    In the ant Pristomyrmex punctatus Smith (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), all young workers lay a small number of eggs parthenogenetically. Some colonies consist of monoclonal individuals that provide high inclusive fitness, according to the kin selection theory. However, in some populations, a majority of the colonies contain multiple lineages. Intracolonial genetic variation of parthenogenetic ants cannot be explained by the multiple mating of single founderesses or by the foundation of a colony by multiple foundresses, which are the usual causes of genetically diverse colonies in social insects. Here, we hypothesized that the fusion of established colonies might facilitate the formation of multiclonal colonies. Colony fusion decreases indirect benefits because of the reduction in intracolonial relatedness. However, when suitable nesting places for overwintering are scarce, colony fusion provides a strategy for the survival of colonies. Here, ants derived from different colonies were allowed to encounter one another in a container with just one nesting place. Initially, high aggression was observed; however, after several days, no aggression was observed and the ants shared the nest. When the fused colonies were allowed to transfer to two alternative nests, ants from different colonies occupied the same nest. This study highlights the importance of limiting the number of nesting places in order to understand the genetic diversity of parthenogenetic ant colonies. PMID:23895053

  5. Increasing leaf hydraulic conductance with transpiration rate minimizes the water potential drawdown from stem to leaf

    PubMed Central

    Simonin, Kevin A.; Burns, Emily; Choat, Brendan; Barbour, Margaret M.; Dawson, Todd E.; Franks, Peter J.

    2015-01-01

    Leaf hydraulic conductance (k leaf) is a central element in the regulation of leaf water balance but the properties of k leaf remain uncertain. Here, the evidence for the following two models for k leaf in well-hydrated plants is evaluated: (i) k leaf is constant or (ii) k leaf increases as transpiration rate (E) increases. The difference between stem and leaf water potential (ΔΨstem–leaf), stomatal conductance (g s), k leaf, and E over a diurnal cycle for three angiosperm and gymnosperm tree species growing in a common garden, and for Helianthus annuus plants grown under sub-ambient, ambient, and elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration were evaluated. Results show that for well-watered plants k leaf is positively dependent on E. Here, this property is termed the dynamic conductance, k leaf(E), which incorporates the inherent k leaf at zero E, which is distinguished as the static conductance, k leaf(0). Growth under different CO2 concentrations maintained the same relationship between k leaf and E, resulting in similar k leaf(0), while operating along different regions of the curve owing to the influence of CO2 on g s. The positive relationship between k leaf and E minimized variation in ΔΨstem–leaf. This enables leaves to minimize variation in Ψleaf and maximize g s and CO2 assimilation rate over the diurnal course of evaporative demand. PMID:25547915

  6. Interactions Increase Forager Availability and Activity in Harvester Ants.

    PubMed

    Pless, Evlyn; Queirolo, Jovel; Pinter-Wollman, Noa; Crow, Sam; Allen, Kelsey; Mathur, Maya B; Gordon, Deborah M

    2015-01-01

    Social insect colonies use interactions among workers to regulate collective behavior. Harvester ant foragers interact in a chamber just inside the nest entrance, here called the 'entrance chamber'. Previous studies of the activation of foragers in red harvester ants show that an outgoing forager inside the nest experiences an increase in brief antennal contacts before it leaves the nest to forage. Here we compare the interaction rate experienced by foragers that left the nest and ants that did not. We found that ants in the entrance chamber that leave the nest to forage experienced more interactions than ants that descend to the deeper nest without foraging. Additionally, we found that the availability of foragers in the entrance chamber is associated with the rate of forager return. An increase in the rate of forager return leads to an increase in the rate at which ants descend to the deeper nest, which then stimulates more ants to ascend into the entrance chamber. Thus a higher rate of forager return leads to more available foragers in the entrance chamber. The highest density of interactions occurs near the nest entrance and the entrances of the tunnels from the entrance chamber to the deeper nest. Local interactions with returning foragers regulate both the activation of waiting foragers and the number of foragers available to be activated.

  7. Interactions Increase Forager Availability and Activity in Harvester Ants

    PubMed Central

    Pinter-Wollman, Noa; Crow, Sam; Allen, Kelsey; Mathur, Maya B.; Gordon, Deborah M.

    2015-01-01

    Social insect colonies use interactions among workers to regulate collective behavior. Harvester ant foragers interact in a chamber just inside the nest entrance, here called the 'entrance chamber'. Previous studies of the activation of foragers in red harvester ants show that an outgoing forager inside the nest experiences an increase in brief antennal contacts before it leaves the nest to forage. Here we compare the interaction rate experienced by foragers that left the nest and ants that did not. We found that ants in the entrance chamber that leave the nest to forage experienced more interactions than ants that descend to the deeper nest without foraging. Additionally, we found that the availability of foragers in the entrance chamber is associated with the rate of forager return. An increase in the rate of forager return leads to an increase in the rate at which ants descend to the deeper nest, which then stimulates more ants to ascend into the entrance chamber. Thus a higher rate of forager return leads to more available foragers in the entrance chamber. The highest density of interactions occurs near the nest entrance and the entrances of the tunnels from the entrance chamber to the deeper nest. Local interactions with returning foragers regulate both the activation of waiting foragers and the number of foragers available to be activated. PMID:26539724

  8. Fibre laser cutting stainless steel: Fluid dynamics and cut front morphology

    NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

    Pocorni, Jetro; Powell, John; Deichsel, Eckard; Frostevarg, Jan; Kaplan, Alexander F. H.

    2017-01-01