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: First detailed microscopy evidence of bacteria at the lower size limit of life

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fungus-growing ants selectively cultivate their crops

Dec 10, 2014

Ever since agriculture evolved ca 10.000 years ago, plants have been artificially selected to become the fast growing and highly productive varieties we know today. However, humans were not the first to see ...

The unbelievable underworld and its impact on us all

Nov 26, 2014

A new study has pulled together research into the most diverse place on earth to demonstrate how the organisms below-ground could hold the key to understanding how the worlds ecosystems function and how they ...

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

A molecular compass for bird navigation

13 hours ago

Each year, the Arctic Tern travels over 40,000 miles, migrating nearly from pole to pole and back again. Other birds make similar (though shorter) journeys in search of warmer climes. How do these birds manage ...

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.