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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 2004 Oct 15;239(2):319-23.

Ocurrence of the antibiotic producing bacterium Burkholderia sp. in colonies of the leaf-cutting ant Atta sexdens rubropilosa.

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Laboratory of Plant Protection, Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense, Av. Alberto Lamego 2000, Campos dos Goytacazes, RJ 28013-602, Brazil.


Fungus garden material from recently established Atta sexdens rubropilosa colonies (6-12 months old) was sampled to detect antibiotic producing microorganisms that inhibited the growth of pathogens of insects and of the fungus gardens but did not affect their mutualistic fungus. A bacterium with activity against the entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana was isolated from 56% of the gardens tested (n=57) and identified from its biochemical profile and from 16S and 23S ribosomal DNA sequences as a member of the genus Burkholderia. The ant-associated Burkholderia isolates secreted a potent, anti-fungal agent that inhibited germination of conidia of the entomopathogenic fungi B. bassiana, Metarhizium anisopliae, of the saprophytic Verticillium lecanii, and also of a specialist fungus garden Escovopsis weberi. Growth of the ant's mutualist fungus was unaffected.

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