The Leaf Cutter Ant Community Essay

1804 Words Nov 15th, 2016 8 Pages
Midterm Exam

1. The leaf cutter ant community is a large amazing system that contains many different species that interact with each other on many different levels. Although many things take place during this extraordinary symbiosis, there are a few keystone mutualists within this leaf-cutter ant community that without them, the results would be almost catastrophic. For one, fungi are extremely important to the ants. Specifically, the fungus Lepiotaceae . The ants cultivate this fungus and feed it to their larvae. Leaf-cutter ants contain a bacterium called Pseudonocardia that lives on ants and kills off Escovopsis Fungus, which consumes the cultivated fungus. So, in turn, the leaf-cutter ants need the fungus to feed their young or else they would die, and the fungus need the bacteria that lives on ants, or else it would be consumed by Escovopsis and die.
There are many other interactions that take place within this complex community, not all of them are mutualists, but all are important. Black Yeast feed on the bacteria Pseudonocardia , that lives on ants, which makes it difficult for he leaf-cutter ants to keep their fungus gardens alive. The Escovopsis Fungus feeds on the cultivated fungus Lepiotaceae. Because the Black Yeast affects the ants in a negative way, and the Escoposis Fungus consumes the cultivated fungus these interactions would be considered Parasitism. The leaf-cutter ants have a very unique way of fertilizing their soil. They use a microorganism…

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