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J Invertebr Pathol. 2004 Jan;85(1):46-53.

Diversity of entomopathogenic fungi near leaf-cutting ant nests in a neotropical forest, with particular reference to Metarhizium anisopliae var. anisopliae.

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Department of Population Ecology, Zoological Institute, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, Copenhagen 2100, Denmark.


We investigated the prevalence of entomopathogenic fungi associated with leaf-cutting ant colonies in a small area of tropical forest in Panama. There was a high abundance of Metarhizium anisopliae var. anisopliae near the colonies. Beauveria bassiana was also detected in the soil, Aspergillus flavus in dump material, and six Camponotus atriceps ants were found infected with Cordyceps sp. Based on a partial sequence of the IGS region, almost all of the M. anisopliae var. anisopliae isolates fell within one of the three main clades of M. anisopliae var. anisopliae, but with there still being considerable diversity within this clade. The vast majority of leaf-cutting ants collected were not infected by any entomopathogenic fungi. While leaf-cutting ants at this site must, therefore, regularly come into contact with a diversity of entomopathogenic fungi, they do not appear to be normally infected by them.

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