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Insects. 2019 Nov 6;10(11). pii: E391. doi: 10.3390/insects10110391.

Do Host Plant and Associated Ant Species Affect Microbial Communities in Myrmecophytes?

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Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, San Cayetano Alto s/n, Loja 1101608, Ecuador.
AMAP, IRD, CIRAD, CNRS, INRA, Université de Montpellier, 34000 Montpellier, France.
CNRS, UMR EcoFoG, Agroparistech, CIRAD, INRA, Université de Guyane, Université des Antilles, Campus Agronomique, 97379 Kourou, France.
Ecolab, Université de Toulouse, CNRS, INPT, UPS, 31062 Toulouse, France.
Laboratoire Evolution & Diversité Biologique (EDB UMR 5174), CNRS, IRD, Université de Toulouse, 31062 Toulouse, France.
Biodiversity Genomics Team, Plant Ecophysiology & Evolution Group, Guangxi Key Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Conservation, College of Forestry, Daxuedonglu 100, Nanning 530005, Guangxi, China.


Ant-associated microorganisms can play crucial and often overlooked roles, and given the diversity of interactions that ants have developed, the study of the associated microbiomes is of interest. We focused here on specialist plant-ant species of the genus Allomerus that grow a fungus to build galleries on their host-plant stems. Allomerus-inhabited domatia, thus, might be a rich arena for microbes associated with the ants, the plant, and the fungus. We investigated the microbial communities present in domatia colonised by four arboreal ants: Allomerus decemarticulatus, A. octoarticulatus, A. octoarticulatus var. demerarae, and the non-fungus growing plant-ant Azteca sp. cf. depilis, inhabiting Hirtella physophora or Cordia nodosa in French Guiana. We hypothesized that the microbial community will differ among these species. We isolated microorganisms from five colonies of each species, sequenced the 16S rRNA or Internal TranscribedSpacer (ITS) regions, and described both the alpha and beta diversities. We identified 69 microbial taxa, which belong to five bacterial and two fungal phyla. The most diverse phyla were Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria. The microbial community of Azteca cf. depilis and Allomerus spp. differed in composition and richness. Geographical distance affected microbial communities and richness but plant species did not. Actinobacteria were only associated with Allomerus spp.


Allomerus decemarticulatus; Allomerus octoarticulatus; Azteca sp. cf. depilis; Cordia nodosa; Hirtella physophora; domatia; microbial diversity

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