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Psyche
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 905109, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/905109
Review Article

Specialized Fungal Parasites and Opportunistic Fungi in Gardens of Attine Ants

1Centre for the Study of Social Insects, São Paulo State University (UNESP), 13506-900 Rio Claro, SP, Brazil
2Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, São Paulo State University (UNESP), 13506-900 Rio Claro, SP, Brazil

Received 1 September 2011; Revised 2 November 2011; Accepted 5 November 2011

Academic Editor: Volker Witte

Copyright © 2012 Fernando C. Pagnocca 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

Ants in the tribe Attini (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) comprise about 230 described species that share the same characteristic: all coevolved in an ancient mutualism with basidiomycetous fungi cultivated for food. In this paper we focused on fungi other than the mutualistic cultivar and their roles in the attine ant symbiosis. Specialized fungal parasites in the genus Escovopsis negatively impact the fungus gardens. Many fungal parasites may have small impacts on the ants' fungal colony when the colony is balanced, but then may opportunistically shift to having large impacts if the ants' colony becomes unbalanced.