Publications in peer reviewed journals

1 Publication found
  • Bacterial diversity in arboreal ant nesting spaces is linked to colony developmental stage

    Nepel M, Mayer VE, Barrajon-Santos V, Woebken D
    2023 - Commun Biol, 6: 1217


    The omnipresence of ants is commonly attributed to their eusocial organization and division of labor, however, bacteria in their nests may facilitate their success. Like many other arboreal ants living in plant-provided cavities, Azteca ants form dark-colored “patches” in their nesting space inside Cecropia host plants. These patches are inhabited by bacteria, fungi and nematodes and appear to be essential for ant colony development. Yet, detailed knowledge of the microbial community composition and its consistency throughout the life cycle of ant colonies was lacking. Amplicon sequencing of the microbial 16S rRNA genes in patches from established ant colonies reveals a highly diverse, ant species-specific bacterial community and little variation within an individual ant colony, with Burkholderiales, Rhizobiales and Chitinophagales being most abundant. In contrast, bacterial communities of early ant colony stages show low alpha diversity and no ant species-specific community composition. We suggest a substrate-caused bottleneck after vertical transmission of the bacterial patch community from mother to daughter colonies. The subsequent ecological succession is driven by environmental parameters and influenced by ant behavior. Our study provides key information for future investigations determining the functions of these bacteria, which is essential to understand the ubiquity of such patches among arboreal ants.

Book chapters and other publications

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