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Science. 2003 Jan 17;299(5605):386-8.

Ancient tripartite coevolution in the attine ant-microbe symbiosis.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA. ccurrie@ku.edu

Abstract

The symbiosis between fungus-growing ants and the fungi they cultivate for food has been shaped by 50 million years of coevolution. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that this long coevolutionary history includes a third symbiont lineage: specialized microfungal parasites of the ants' fungus gardens. At ancient levels, the phylogenies of the three symbionts are perfectly congruent, revealing that the ant-microbe symbiosis is the product of tripartite coevolution between the farming ants, their cultivars, and the garden parasites. At recent phylogenetic levels, coevolution has been punctuated by occasional host-switching by the parasite, thus intensifying continuous coadaptation between symbionts in a tripartite arms race.

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PMID:
12532015
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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