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Old 12-07-2009, 05:50 PM   #1
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ant worker Symbiosis: Bacterial Gut Symbionts Are Tightly Linked With the Evolution of Herbivory in Ants

Symbiosis: Bacterial Gut Symbionts Are Tightly Linked With the Evolution of Herbivory in Ants
ScienceDaily
Dec. 2, 2009

Symbiosis: Bacterial gut symbionts are tightly linked with the evolution of herbivory in ants
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Quote:
Broadly speaking, ants have two different feeding strategies. A large proportion of all species are "carnivorous," meaning that they are generalist predators feeding on other small animals or scavenging on their remains. Some, however, are "herbivorous." This is not to say that they only eat plants; rather, the bulk of their diets consist of plant-derived matter. For example, some forage on sticky fluids produced by plants to attract ants, called extra-floral nectar; others feed on the processed plant sap excreted by plant-sucking insects such as scale insects and aphids. Herbivorous ants are likely to be a highly under-estimated component of the global fauna as there are many tropical forest canopy specialists among them, and the forest canopy remains to this day surprisingly unexplored.

It has long been a mystery how herbivorous ant species gain all the nutrients they need...
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Old 12-07-2009, 06:59 PM   #2
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Myrmecos Blog featured this article about a week ago. It's a fascinating article and suggests that a colony of ants with a poor diet could lose the ability to eat a certain type of food entirely.
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Old 12-08-2009, 12:37 AM   #3
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Whoa... a motherload at that blog. The Alex Wild ant photos are worth the trip alone, Insect Symbionts - Alex Wild Photography - Insect Images - Insect Pictures Nothing on hemipteran honeydew so he must have swapped pages. I couldn't find a paper suggesting a colony of ants with a poor diet could lose their ability to eat a certain type of food but... I'll buy that if their microbes aren't fueled there could be big time problems. Can you add a direct link to the paper?
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Old 12-08-2009, 12:57 AM   #4
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Bacterial Gut Symbiots are Tightly Linked with the Evolution of Herbivory in Ants

Dietary issues was something I thought up after reading the article. It would sure explain why most ant colonies don't do well in captivity anyhow.
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