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

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Bacterial community of fungus-growing ants in Atlantic rainforest

Author(s):
Mariane Ueda Vaz Ronque, Mariane Ueda Vaz Ronque , Mariana Lúcio Lyra , Gustavo Henrique Migliorini , Maurício Bacci Jr. , Paulo Sérgio Oliveira
Institution(s):
Pos Graduação em Ecologia, UNICAMP, Campinas, Brazil; Pós Graduação em Ecologia, UNICAMP, Campinas, Brazil ; Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Estadual Paulista - Campus Rio Claro, Brazil ; Pós-Graduação em Biologia Animal, Universidade Estadual Paulista “Júlio de Mesquita Filho”, São José do Rio Preto, Brazil ; Centro de Estudos de Insetos Sociais, Universidade Estadual Paulista – Campus Rio Claro, Brazil ; Departamento de Biologia Animal, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil
Ants in the Atta group maintain a highly specialized symbiosis with cultivated fungi inside their nests. This complex symbiosis also includes other associated microorganisms and is continuously exposed to microorganisms from the environment. The bacterial community associated with fungus-growing ants can be a key element in the mutualism with the fungus garden, although little is known about this interaction. Here, we report the diversity of the bacterial community associated with five fungus-growing species from Atlantic rainforest: Mycocepurus smithii, Mycetarotes parallelus, Mycetophylax morschi, Sericomyrmex parvulus and Sericomyrmex saussurei. We tested for intra and interspecific differences in bacterial composition and, for the first time, compared the bacterial community between worker foragers and internals. We quantified ant-bacterial species richness and diversity using 16S ribosomal RNA gene, and PCR amplified from total DNA extracted from the ants. We generated 8.754.441 sequences (2272 OTUs) dominated by the phyla Proteobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Actinobacteria, and Tenericutes. The ant species had different bacterial communities; S. saussurei presented the most diverse associated microbiota. The composition of the bacterial community in the same species differed among nests (with exception of M. parallelus), indicating that associated microbiota varies among nestmates. However, the bacterial communities from internal vs. external ants (foragers) did not differ (M. parallelus) or differed only slightly (M. smithii and M. morschi), indicating that the host species is a stronger predictor of the bacterial composition associated with fungus-growers. This study adds to our understanding of the richness and diversity of the bacterial taxa living with fungus-growing ants in Atlantic rainforest, revealing a specificity of host species and highlighting how the bacterial community associated with these ants can have a complex structure (FAPESP, CNPq).
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