Title Garden microbiomes of Apterostigma dentigerum and Apterostigma pilosum fungus-growing ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
Author Cely T. González1,2,3, Kristin Saltonstall3, and Hermógenes Fernández-Marín1*
Address 1Centro de Biodiversidad y Descubrimiento de Drogas, Instituto de Investigaciones Científicas y Servicios de Alta Tecnología, Apartado 0843-01103, Clayton, Republic of Panamá , 2Department of Biotechnology, Acharya Nagarjuna University, Guntur, India, 3Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, P.O. Box 0843-03092, Amador, Naos, Republic of Panamá
Bibliography Journal of Microbiology, 57(10),842–851, 2019,
DOI 10.1007/s12275-019-8639-0
Key Words basal attine ants, next generation sequencing, bacterial community structure, OTU diversity
Abstract Fungus-growing ants share a complex symbiosis with microbes, including fungal mutualists, antibiotic-producing bacteria, and fungal pathogens. The bacterial communities associated with this symbiosis are poorly understood but likely play important roles in maintaining the health and function of fungal gardens. We studied bacterial communities in gardens of two Apterostigma species, A. dentigerum, and A. pilosum, using next-generation sequencing to evaluate differences between the two ant species, their veiled and no-veiled fungal garden types, and across three collection locations. We also compared different parts of nests to test for homogeneity within nests. Enterobacteriaceae dominated gardens of both species and common OTUs were shared across both species and nest types. However, differences in community diversity were detected between ant species, and in the communities of A. dentigerum veiled and no-veiled nests within sites. Apterostigma pilosum had a higher proportion of Phyllobacteriaceae and differed from A. dentigerum in the proportions of members of the order Clostridiales. Within A. dentigerum, nests with veiled and no-veiled fungus gardens had similar taxonomic profiles but differed in the relative abundance of some groups, with veiled gardens having more Rhodospirillaceae and Hyphomicrobiaceae, and no-veiled having more Xanthomonadaceae and certain genera in the Enterobacteriaceae C. However, bacterial communities in Apterostigma fungal gardens are highly conserved and resemble those of the nests of other attine ants with dominant taxa likely playing a role in biomass degradation and defense. Further work is required to understand and explain how bacterial community composition of fungus-growing nests is maintained.