International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI2018), August 5-10, 2018 in Guarujá, Brazil.

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Escovopsis trichodermoides: a fungal antagonist associated with lower attine ant colonies

Rodolfo Bizarria Júnior, Rodolfo Bizarria Júnior , Andre Rodrigues
Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology; Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, UNESP – São Paulo State University, Rio Claro, SP, Brazil. ; Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, UNESP – São Paulo State University, Rio Claro, SP, Brazil / Center for the Study of Social Insects, UNESP – São Paulo State University, Rio Claro, SP, Brazil
Social insects maintain associations with different microorganisms and are considered hotspots for symbioses. An interesting example of interaction is the mutualism between ants (Hymenoptera: Attini: Attina) and fungi they cultivate for food. In this association, fungi in the genus Escovopsis are considered parasites of the fungal partner of these insects. Recently, Escovopsis trichodermoides was described associated with lower attine ant colonies, nevertheless its ecological role is elusive. The aim of this study was to investigate whether E. trichodermoides present an inhibition pattern against native and non-native fungal cultivar hosts (Leucocoprinus sp.). In vitro dual-culture assay was performed to evaluate the growth of mutualistic fungi from Mycocepurus goeldii (n = 2 isolates) and Mycetophylax morschi (n = 2), in the presence of 6 E. trichodermoides isolates (3 from M. goeldii and 3 from M. morschi). Mycelium fragments of each mutualistic fungus were inoculated on potato dextrose agar medium for 14 days. Then, each E. trichodermoides isolate was inoculated at 3 cm apart from the host fungus. The growth area of the mutualistic fungi was measured after 10 days and compared with the control group (without Escovopsis). All E. trichodermoides isolates inhibited all mutualistic fungi, regardless the nature of the host (native or non-native). The fungal cultivar QVM12 from M. goeldii was the most inhibited, while the cultivar AR02 from M. morschi presented the minor inhibition compared to the other mutualistic strains (Tukey test at 5%). These results indicate the strong susceptibility of Leucocoprinus sp. against E. trichodermoides and confirm its antagonistic activity. We will focus in confirming the parasitic role of E. trichodermoides in the lower attine system and the associated mechanisms. Financial support: FAPESP (process: 2017/10631-9)