Long-term co-evolution stability studied

Jun 27, 2006

U.S. biologists say the world's fungus-farming ants cultivate essentially the same fungus and aren't as critical to fungi reproduction as had been thought.

The University of Texas-Austin scientists say fungus-farming ants are dependent on cultivating fungus gardens for food, and it has been widely believed the fungi also evolved dependence on the ants for their dispersal and reproduction. When young ant queens establish new colonies, they take a start-up crop of fungi with them from their parental garden.

UT graduate student Alexander Mikheyev and Biology Professor Ulrich Mueller say the fungi reproduce sexually and disperse widely without the aid of their ant farmers. That finding provides a new perspective on co-evolutionary processes -- such as that between honeybees and the flowers they pollinate -- when two or more species influence each other's evolution over time.

"This shows co-evolution can proceed without specificity at the species level," said Mikheyev. "It has been believed mutualistic interactions, as well as parasitic ones, are very specific and one-to-one. We are beginning to realize this is not necessary for long-term co-evolutionary stability ..."

The research appears in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Shark's unique trek could help save the species

Related Stories

'Map of life' predicts ET. (So where is he?)

18 hours ago

Extra-terrestrials that resemble humans should have evolved on other, Earth-like planets, making it increasingly paradoxical that we still appear to be alone in the universe, the author of a new study on ...

New parasitic fungi found that turn ants into zombies

Mar 04, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists from the US and UK have discovered four new species of parasitic fungi in the Brazilian rainforests. The fungi attack four distinct species of ants and release mind-altering chemicals ...

Zombie ant fungi 'know' brains of their hosts

Aug 25, 2014

(Phys.org) —A parasitic fungus that reproduces by manipulating the behavior of ants emits a cocktail of behavior-controlling chemicals when encountering the brain of its natural target host, but not when ...

Recommended for you

Shark's unique trek could help save the species

3 hours ago

Her name is Jiffy Lube2, a relatively small shortfin mako shark that, like others of her kind, swims long distances every day in search of prey and comfortable water temperatures.

Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

Jul 03, 2015

The DNA molecule is chemically unstable giving rise to DNA lesions of different nature. That is why DNA damage detection, signaling and repair, collectively known as the DNA damage response, are needed.

The math of shark skin

Jul 03, 2015

"Sharks are almost perfectly evolved animals. We can learn a lot from studying them," says Emory mathematician Alessandro Veneziani.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.