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Farming of a defensive fungal mutualist by an attelabid weevil

Wang, Lin ; Feng, Yu ; Tian, Jianqing ; Xiang, Meichun ; Sun, Jingzu ; Ding, Jianqing ; Yin, Wen-Bing ; Stadler, Marc ; Che, Yongsheng ; Liu, Xingzhong

The ISME journal, August 2015, Vol.9(8), pp.1793-801 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Farming of a defensive fungal mutualist by an attelabid weevil
  • Author: Wang, Lin ; Feng, Yu ; Tian, Jianqing ; Xiang, Meichun ; Sun, Jingzu ; Ding, Jianqing ; Yin, Wen-Bing ; Stadler, Marc ; Che, Yongsheng ; Liu, Xingzhong
  • Description: The mutualism between fungus-growing animals and fungi is a classic example of a complex interspecies association. A handful of insects, notably the well-recognized fungus-farming ants, termites and beetles, have developed advanced agriculture, which includes seeding new gardens with crop propagules, improving growth conditions and protecting and harvesting the fungal crop. More examples, which could be called 'proto-fungiculture', involve fewer adaptations, as exemplified by marine snails that farm intertidal fungi on marsh grass. Recent work has indicated that the solitary leaf-rolling weevil Euops chinensis (family Attelabidae) has a protofarming symbiosis with the mycangial fungus Penicillium herquei (family Trichocomaceae). In this study, we investigated how the weevils create cradles (leaf-rolls) for their offspring and protect the fungal garden. We describe new specialized structures and behaviors that E. chinensis females use for leaf-rolling and fungus inoculation. The fungus P. herquei produces the antibiotic (+)-scleroderolide in laboratory culture and in leaf-rolls, which can serve to inhibit microbial 'weeds' and pests, thus protecting the fungal garden against potential infection. The fungiculture of E. chinensis differs from other advanced insect fungiculture systems because female weevils do not continuously tend the inoculated microbe and do not depend nutritionally on the fungus. The defensive role of the cultivated fungus makes the attelabid weevils exceptional in 'proto-fungiculture' animals.
  • Is Part Of: The ISME journal, August 2015, Vol.9(8), pp.1793-801
  • Identifier: E-ISSN: 1751-7370 ; PMID: 25658054 Version:1 ; DOI: 10.1038/ismej.2014.263
  • Subjects: Fungi -- Growth & Development ; Weevils -- Microbiology
  • Language: English

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