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Leaf-cutting, fungus-growing Crematogaster

crematogaster study

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#1 Offline UtahAnts - Posted March 15 2023 - 10:17 AM

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This recent study investigates the interesting species Crematogaster clariventris which exhibits leaf cutting behavior. These ants use the leaves to grow fungus, however the fungus is not used as a source of food, but rather as a support for their carton nests.

 

ece39904-fig-0001-m.jpg

 

Image courtesey of Piotr Naskrecki


Edited by UtahAnts, March 15 2023 - 10:25 AM.

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#2 Offline antsriondel - Posted March 15 2023 - 11:56 AM

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Wow that is cool. :)



#3 Offline ANTdrew - Posted March 15 2023 - 11:57 AM

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New dream species! Look at those colors.
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#4 Offline Katakros8 - Posted March 15 2023 - 12:05 PM

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Wow absolutly beautiful ant!

#5 Offline mmcguffi - Posted March 15 2023 - 2:03 PM

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Microbiologist here (who also keeps Atta)

 

This is a super neat study! However, I think the title is a bit deceptive. Their (quite limited) analysis of the fungi does not show any particularly dominant members -- meaning their is likely no/limited co-evolution between the ants and the fungi making this a very different relationship than Attines. If I am being critical, they hand-wave away any fungi they did not expect to see, though provide no real evidence that these detected fungi are in fact just spore contaminants like they claim. Even if you charitably allow that assumption, they further show a fairly diverse mixture of species that are still involved. I see no evidence of "intentional" fungus growing in the paper.

 

My best interpretation of this data is that these ants make their nest cartons out of plant material and then native/random fungi use the plant material as a substrate. One of the most amazing things about Attines (imo) is the fact that the fungi are coevolved with the ants, making them a single organism of sorts. The relationship demonstrated in the paper seems to be opportunistic fungi colonizing plant material collected by ants.

 

Anyway, still very very cool, I would just have liked to see better data for some of the claims they are making here


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#6 Offline FinWins - Posted March 15 2023 - 3:13 PM

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Maybe in 25 million years this will have turned from an accident into their main food source and they are the leaf cutting ants of the future!


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#7 Offline mmcguffi - Posted March 15 2023 - 4:58 PM

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Maybe in 25 million years this will have turned from an accident into their main food source and they are the leaf cutting ants of the future!

 

That's basically what people think happened with Attines!


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#8 Offline cutchins - Posted March 23 2024 - 3:39 AM

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Hey mmcguffi, (or anyone that knows the answer), in the linked study they refer to the fungus of the higher attines by the division and family names, Basidiomycota Agaricaceae, instead of the binomial name, L. gongylophorus. Why is that?

 

It confused the hell out of me because, as a layman, I'm a little familiar with the binomial name and when I saw something else I was like, "wtf, am I an idiot or going insane? because that's not what I thought the fungus was called". 


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#9 Offline mmcguffi - Posted May 12 2024 - 5:10 PM

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Hey mmcguffi, (or anyone that knows the answer), in the linked study they refer to the fungus of the higher attines by the division and family names, Basidiomycota Agaricaceae, instead of the binomial name, L. gongylophorus. Why is that?

 

It confused the hell out of me because, as a layman, I'm a little familiar with the binomial name and when I saw something else I was like, "wtf, am I an idiot or going insane? because that's not what I thought the fungus was called". 

 

Sorry for the slow reply @cutchins -- I'm not on here very regularly

 

This isn't my field, but my best guess is because both the genus and species of the fungus that the attines grow is a taxonomic mess. I checked in with an expert in the field ~Oct 2022 and this is what they said (not naming them because this was a personal correspondence):

 

 

Regarding Leucocoprinus or Leucoagaricus, this is up for debate, however (!), the currently accepted name is Leucoagaricus -> (http://speciesfungor...RecordID=357960)

 

I've also seen it referred to as Attamyces and other obscure genus/species names that I am forgetting at the moment. My best guess is that the authors of that study also didn't want to wade into that taxonomic mess either -- the lowest taxonomic level people seem to unanimously agree upon is the family, so that's probably why they only mentioned Agaricaceae



#10 Offline dspdrew - Posted May 12 2024 - 8:52 PM

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That is the coolest colored Crematogaster ever.



#11 Offline bmb1bee - Posted May 12 2024 - 9:35 PM

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I genuinely thought the title was for a satire joke-post for a moment lol, cool to know that these Crematogaster actually exist!


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