Find Paper, Faster
Example:10.1021/acsami.1c06204 or Chem. Rev., 2007, 107, 2411-2502
The multidimensional nutritional niche of fungus-cultivar provisioning in free-ranging colonies of a neotropical leafcutter ant
Ecology Letters  (IF9.492),  Pub Date : 2021-08-21, DOI: 10.1111/ele.13865
Antonin J. J. Crumière, Aidan James, Pol Lannes, Sophie Mallett, Anders Michelsen, Riikka Rinnan, Jonathan Z. Shik

Foraging trails of leafcutter colonies are iconic scenes in the Neotropics, with ants collecting freshly cut plant fragments to provision a fungal food crop. We hypothesised that the fungus-cultivar's requirements for macronutrients and minerals govern the foraging niche breadth of Atta colombica leafcutter ants. Analyses of plant fragments carried by foragers showed how nutrients from fruits, flowers and leaves combine to maximise cultivar performance. While the most commonly foraged leaves delivered excess protein relative to the cultivar's needs, in vitro experiments showed that the minerals P, Al and Fe may expand the leafcutter foraging niche by enhancing the cultivar's tolerance to protein-biased substrates. A suite of other minerals reduces cultivar performance in ways that may render plant fragments with optimal macronutrient blends unsuitable for provisioning. Our approach highlights how the nutritional challenges of provisioning a mutualist can govern the multidimensional realised niche available to a generalist insect herbivore.