The dynamics of plant cell-wall polysaccharide decomposition in leaf-cutting ant fungus gardens

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The dynamics of plant cell-wall polysaccharide decomposition in leaf-cutting ant fungus gardens. / Moller, Isabel Eva; de Fine Licht, Henrik Hjarvard; Harholt, Jesper; Willats, William George Tycho; Boomsma, Jacobus Jan.

In: P L o S One, Vol. 6, No. 3, 2011.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Harvard

Moller, IE, de Fine Licht, HH, Harholt, J, Willats, WGT & Boomsma, JJ 2011, 'The dynamics of plant cell-wall polysaccharide decomposition in leaf-cutting ant fungus gardens', P L o S One, vol. 6, no. 3. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0017506

APA

Moller, I. E., de Fine Licht, H. H., Harholt, J., Willats, W. G. T., & Boomsma, J. J. (2011). The dynamics of plant cell-wall polysaccharide decomposition in leaf-cutting ant fungus gardens. P L o S One, 6(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0017506

Vancouver

Moller IE, de Fine Licht HH, Harholt J, Willats WGT, Boomsma JJ. The dynamics of plant cell-wall polysaccharide decomposition in leaf-cutting ant fungus gardens. P L o S One. 2011;6(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0017506

Author

Moller, Isabel Eva ; de Fine Licht, Henrik Hjarvard ; Harholt, Jesper ; Willats, William George Tycho ; Boomsma, Jacobus Jan. / The dynamics of plant cell-wall polysaccharide decomposition in leaf-cutting ant fungus gardens. In: P L o S One. 2011 ; Vol. 6, No. 3.

Bibtex

@article{974bd4ab72cd40e289a03c465d8ad35c,
title = "The dynamics of plant cell-wall polysaccharide decomposition in leaf-cutting ant fungus gardens",
abstract = "The degradation of live plant biomass in fungus gardens of leaf-cutting ants is poorly characterised but fundamental for understanding the mutual advantages and efficiency of this obligate nutritional symbiosis. Controversies about the extent to which the garden-symbiont Leucocoprinus gongylophorus degrades cellulose have hampered our understanding of the selection forces that induced large scale herbivory and of the ensuing ecological footprint of these ants. Here we use a recently established technique, based on polysaccharide microarrays probed with antibodies and carbohydrate binding modules, to map the occurrence of cell wall polymers in consecutive sections of the fungus garden of the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior. We show that pectin, xyloglucan and some xylan epitopes are degraded, whereas more highly substituted xylan and cellulose epitopes remain as residuals in the waste material that the ants remove from their fungus garden. These results demonstrate that biomass entering leaf-cutting ant fungus gardens is only partially utilized and explain why disproportionally large amounts of plant material are needed to sustain colony growth. They also explain why substantial communities of microbial and invertebrate symbionts have evolved associations with the dump material from leaf-cutting ant nests, to exploit decomposition niches that the ant garden-fungus does not utilize. Our approach thus provides detailed insight into the nutritional benefits and shortcomings associated with fungus-farming in ants.",
author = "Moller, {Isabel Eva} and {de Fine Licht}, {Henrik Hjarvard} and Jesper Harholt and Willats, {William George Tycho} and Boomsma, {Jacobus Jan}",
year = "2011",
doi = "10.1371/journal.pone.0017506",
language = "English",
volume = "6",
journal = "P L o S One",
issn = "1932-6203",
publisher = "Public Library of Science",
number = "3",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - The dynamics of plant cell-wall polysaccharide decomposition in leaf-cutting ant fungus gardens

AU - Moller, Isabel Eva

AU - de Fine Licht, Henrik Hjarvard

AU - Harholt, Jesper

AU - Willats, William George Tycho

AU - Boomsma, Jacobus Jan

PY - 2011

Y1 - 2011

N2 - The degradation of live plant biomass in fungus gardens of leaf-cutting ants is poorly characterised but fundamental for understanding the mutual advantages and efficiency of this obligate nutritional symbiosis. Controversies about the extent to which the garden-symbiont Leucocoprinus gongylophorus degrades cellulose have hampered our understanding of the selection forces that induced large scale herbivory and of the ensuing ecological footprint of these ants. Here we use a recently established technique, based on polysaccharide microarrays probed with antibodies and carbohydrate binding modules, to map the occurrence of cell wall polymers in consecutive sections of the fungus garden of the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior. We show that pectin, xyloglucan and some xylan epitopes are degraded, whereas more highly substituted xylan and cellulose epitopes remain as residuals in the waste material that the ants remove from their fungus garden. These results demonstrate that biomass entering leaf-cutting ant fungus gardens is only partially utilized and explain why disproportionally large amounts of plant material are needed to sustain colony growth. They also explain why substantial communities of microbial and invertebrate symbionts have evolved associations with the dump material from leaf-cutting ant nests, to exploit decomposition niches that the ant garden-fungus does not utilize. Our approach thus provides detailed insight into the nutritional benefits and shortcomings associated with fungus-farming in ants.

AB - The degradation of live plant biomass in fungus gardens of leaf-cutting ants is poorly characterised but fundamental for understanding the mutual advantages and efficiency of this obligate nutritional symbiosis. Controversies about the extent to which the garden-symbiont Leucocoprinus gongylophorus degrades cellulose have hampered our understanding of the selection forces that induced large scale herbivory and of the ensuing ecological footprint of these ants. Here we use a recently established technique, based on polysaccharide microarrays probed with antibodies and carbohydrate binding modules, to map the occurrence of cell wall polymers in consecutive sections of the fungus garden of the leaf-cutting ant Acromyrmex echinatior. We show that pectin, xyloglucan and some xylan epitopes are degraded, whereas more highly substituted xylan and cellulose epitopes remain as residuals in the waste material that the ants remove from their fungus garden. These results demonstrate that biomass entering leaf-cutting ant fungus gardens is only partially utilized and explain why disproportionally large amounts of plant material are needed to sustain colony growth. They also explain why substantial communities of microbial and invertebrate symbionts have evolved associations with the dump material from leaf-cutting ant nests, to exploit decomposition niches that the ant garden-fungus does not utilize. Our approach thus provides detailed insight into the nutritional benefits and shortcomings associated with fungus-farming in ants.

U2 - 10.1371/journal.pone.0017506

DO - 10.1371/journal.pone.0017506

M3 - Journal article

VL - 6

JO - P L o S One

JF - P L o S One

SN - 1932-6203

IS - 3

ER -

ID: 35162593