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  Chemical basis of the synergism and antagonism in microbial communities in the nests of leaf-cutting ants

Schoenian, I., Spiteller, M., Ghaste, M., Wirth, R., Herz, H., & Spiteller, D. (2011). Chemical basis of the synergism and antagonism in microbial communities in the nests of leaf-cutting ants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(5), 1955-1960. doi:10.1073/pnas.1008441108.

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 Creators:
Schoenian, Ilka1, 2, Author              
Spiteller, Michael, Author
Ghaste, Manoj, Author
Wirth, Rainer, Author
Herz, Hubert, Author
Spiteller, Dieter1, 2, Author              
Affiliations:
1Department of Bioorganic Chemistry, Prof. Dr. W. Boland, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society, ou_24028              
2Research Group Dr. D. Spiteller, Microbial Chemical Ecology , Department of Bioorganic Chemistry, Prof. Dr. W. Boland, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society, Jena, DE, ou_421908              

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 Abstract: Leaf-cutting ants cultivate the fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, which serves as a major food source. This symbiosis is threatened by microbial pathogens that can severely infect L. gongylophorus. Microbial symbionts of leaf-cutting ants, mainly Pseudonocardia and Streptomyces, support the ants in defending their fungus gardens against infections by supplying antimicrobial and antifungal compounds. The ecological role of microorganisms in the nests of leaf-cutting ants can only be addressed in detail if their secondary metabolites are known. Here, we use an approach for the rapid identification of established bioactive compounds from microorganisms in ecological contexts by combining phylogenetic data, database searches, and liquid chromatography electrospray ionisation high resolution mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-HR-MS) screening. Antimycins A(1)-A(4), valinomycins, and actinomycins were identified in this manner from Streptomyces symbionts of leaf-cutting ants. Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization (MALDI) imaging revealed the distribution of valinomycin directly on the integument of Acromyrmex echinatior workers. Valinomycins and actinomycins were also directly identified in samples from the waste of A. echinatior and A. niger leaf-cutting ants, suggesting that the compounds exert their antimicrobial and antifungal potential in the nests of leaf-cutting ants. Strong synergistic effects of the secondary meta-bolites produced by ant-associated Streptomyces were observed in the agar diffusion assay against Escovopsis weberi. Actinomycins strongly inhibit soil bacteria as well as other Streptomyces and Pseudonocardia symbionts. The antifungal antimycins are not only active against pathogenic fungi but also the garden fungus L. gongylophorus itself. In conclusion, secondary metabolites of microbial symbionts of leaf-cutting ants contribute to shaping the microbial communities within the nests of leaf-cutting ants.

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 Dates: 20102011
 Publication Status: Published in print
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 Identifiers: Other: BOL504
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1008441108
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Title: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  Other : Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A.
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: National Academy of Sciences
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 108 (5) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 1955 - 1960 Identifier: ISSN: 0027-8424
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/954925427230