Lecture twenty-four 12 03 08

Lecture twenty-four 12 03 08 - Mutualisms Lichens Insects...

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Mutualisms Lichens fungus + alga Mycorrhizae fungus + plant Insects
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Ants + fungi
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Leaf cutter ants
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Leaf cutter ants http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH3KYBMpxOU Video on Youtube
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Largest consumer of vegetation 200 species in American tropics Leaf cutter ants
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Critical component of nutrient cycles
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Forests cleared for agriculture Ants eat crops instead
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$1Billion/year Damage to agriculture
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Cut-out leaf pieces
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Remove leaf pieces
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Transport to nest 10 miles round-trip Carrying 750 pounds Human equivalent
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Entry to nest
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50 feet diameter
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18 feet deep 2 million ants Fungus garden
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Ants feed leaves to fungi Partially chewed Increased surface area
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Fungus garden
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Maintain a single species of fungus Remove weed fungi Mechanically Chemically: Bacterial symbiont Produces chemicals toxic to other fungi – not the one under cultivation
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Ants eat the fungus Young eat only fungus Adults also eat plant sap
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Fungus produces swollen hyphal tips Rich in nutrients Crop improvement
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Continual pruning maintains the fungus in a somatic condition No sexual reproduction: no genetic change
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Parasol mushroom Continual pruning prevents sexual reproduction
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Must leave the nest Young queen Eaten by mom But first: a stop at the fungus garden
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Fungal spawn used to start garden in new nest
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Benefit to the ants: -most abundant source of organic carbon The ability to utilize cellulose
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+ Glucose Make mycelium Fungi degrade cellulose No animals can digest cellulose
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Cellulose Starch Glucose β -1,4 α -1,4
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Starch Cellulose Animals cannot break this bond β -1,4 α -1,4
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A source of food - leaves THEY ARE FOOD Mutualistic? Domestication is
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Lecture twenty-four 12 03 08 - Mutualisms Lichens Insects...

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