Analysis of the bacterial communities associated with two ant-plant symbioses

Seipke, Ryan F., Barke, Jörg, Heavens, Darren, Yu, Douglas W. and Hutchings, Matthew I. (2013) Analysis of the bacterial communities associated with two ant-plant symbioses. MicrobiologyOpen, 2 (2). pp. 276-283. ISSN 2045-8827

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Insect fungiculture is practiced by ants, termites, beetles, and gall midges and it has been suggested to be widespread among plant–ants. Some of the insects engaged in fungiculture, including attine ants and bark beetles, are known to use symbiotic antibiotic-producing actinobacteria to protect themselves and their fungal cultivars against infection. In this study, we analyze the bacterial communities on the cuticles of the plant–ant genera Allomerus and Tetraponera using deep sequencing of 16S rRNA. Allomerus ants cultivate fungus as a building material to strengthen traps for prey, while Tetraponera ants cultivate fungus as a food source. We report that Allomerus and Tetraponera microbiomes contain >75% Proteobacteria and remarkably the bacterial phyla that dominate their cuticular microbiomes are very similar despite their geographic separation (South America and Africa, respectively). Notably, antibiotic-producing actinomycete bacteria represent a tiny fraction of the cuticular microbiomes of both Allomerus and Tetraponera spp. and instead they are dominated by γ-proteobacteria Erwinia and Serratia spp. Both these phyla are known to contain antibiotic-producing species which might therefore play a protective role in these ant–plant systems.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2013 The Authors. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: 16s pyrosequencing,allomerus,fungus-growing ants,microbiome,tetraponera
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Biological Sciences
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Organisms and the Environment
Faculty of Science > Research Groups > Molecular Microbiology
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2013 16:48
Last Modified: 16 May 2023 18:31
DOI: 10.1002/mbo3.73


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