Louisiana Digital News

Ants independently evolved to farm fungus at least twice


A cocktail ant cutting off a piece of a leaf

Piotr Naskrecki

In warm regions of the Americas, leafcutter ants farm the fungus that they eat, gathering bits of greenery to feed it. An entire ocean away, one species of ant in Africa uses a very similar fungus cultivation technique. The findings suggest that this complex ant-fungus relationship has evolved independently at least twice.

The nearly 50 species of leafcutter ant tirelessly carve and shuttle pieces of leaves back to their expansive subterranean nests, where they feed the bounty to a fungal culture …

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