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Psyche
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 389806, 6 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/389806
Research Article

Diversity of Fungi Associated with Atta bisphaerica (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): The Activity of Aspergillus ochraceus and Beauveria bassiana

1Departamento de Biologia Animal, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, 36570-000 Viçosa, MG, Brazil
2Departamento de Microbiologia, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, 36570-000 Viçosa, MG, Brazil
3Curso de Engenharia Florestal, Universidade Federal do Tocantins, 77402-970 Gurupi, TO, Brazil

Received 10 August 2011; Revised 15 October 2011; Accepted 24 October 2011

Academic Editor: Alain Lenoir

Copyright © 2012 Myriam M. R. Ribeiro et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

The grass-cutting ant Atta bisphaerica is one of the most serious pests in several pastures and crops in Brazil. Fungal diseases are a constant threat to these large societies composed of millions of closely related individuals. We investigated the occurrence of filamentous fungi associated with the ant A. bisphaerica in a pasture area of Viçosa, Minas Gerais State, Brazil. Several fungi species were isolated from forager ants, and two of them, known as entomopathogenic, Beauveria bassiana and Aspergillus ochraceus, were tested against worker ants in the laboratory. The two species were highly virulent, achieving 50 percent worker mortality within 4-5 days. It is the first time A. ochraceus, a commonly found fungal species, is reported to infect Atta species at a high prevalence. Possible uses for the fungus within biological control are discussed.