Specialized Bacteria In Leafcutter Ant-Fungal Mutualism
The leafcutter ants truly highlight the process of evolution, the complexity of life beneath the forest floor and the benefits of eusociality. For more than 50 million years, these lineages of ants have been collecting and processing plant material to feed their subterraneous fungal farms. Today, these ants are amongst the most organized, social organisms in the animal kingdom. Some species have up to 12 different casts, represented by morphologically distinct individuals that carry out different roles. I’m ecstatic to announce that I’ll be seeing these ants in just a few weeks during my January stay in the cloud forests of Monteverde Costa Rica.