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ELEVATE - Eco-physiological tradeoffs with crop domestication: have farming ants cracked the code?

Dato: 13-09-2017
Beløb: 11.000.000 kr.
Bevillingstager: Postdoc Jonathan Z. Shik, Sektion for Økologi og Evolution
Bevillingsgiver: European Research Council (ERC)
Projektbeskrivelse: ELEVATE will focus on the remarkable lineage of leafcutter ants (genus Atta) that harvest fresh vegetation and use it as compost to produce domesticated fungal crops in huge underground nests that feed massive superorganismal colonies with millions of workers. While human agricultural systems are imperiled by climate change, leafcutter ants have managed to grow a single cultivar lineage from Texas to Argentina, thriving across extreme rainfall and temperature gradients and across diverse climates over millions of years. Jon and his research team will combine field experiments in Panamanian rainforests with integrative laboratory studies of cultivar gene expression to resolve the eco-physiological mechanisms that govern the resilience of industrial-scale fungus farming in ants within diverse tropical insect communities.