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: For resetting circadian rhythms, neural cooperation is key

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How plants become zombies

Apr 09, 2014

(Phys.org) —Forget popular video game Plants Vs. Zombies, some plants are zombies and scientists have uncovered how bacterial parasites turn them into the living dead.

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 ...

Fungal genome offers clues on how leaf-cutter ants farm

Jun 13, 2013

Leaf-cutter ants are well-known examples of insects that use microbes to gain access to nutrients, farming "gardens" in which bacteria and fungi break down plant mass. In an article featured on the cover ...

Recommended for you

For resetting circadian rhythms, neural cooperation is key

25 minutes ago

Fruit flies are pretty predictable when it comes to scheduling their days, with peaks of activity at dawn and dusk and rest times in between. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports on April 17th h ...

Rapid and accurate mRNA detection in plant tissues

1 hour ago

Gene expression is the process whereby the genetic information of DNA is used to manufacture functional products, such as proteins, which have numerous different functions in living organisms. Messenger RNA (mRNA) serves ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

1 hour ago

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

Small underground nuclear power plants that could be cheaper to build than their behemoth counterparts may herald the future for an energy industry under intense scrutiny since the Fukushima disaster, the ...