Seven pure-culture strains of fungi cultivated by attine ants (ant-garden fungi) were isolated from locally maintained leaf-cutting ant colonies. An ant-garden fungus strain obtained from an Atta cephalotes colony, when offered to ants of the colony from which the fungus was isolated, was accepted as their own. Young fungus cultures were harvested and incorporated into the fungus garden, and cultures of intermediate age were used to begin a new fungus garden; old cultures were simply harvested. To facilitate further research on this fungus, growth characteristics of the different isolates were studied under a variety of conditions. They grew better at 24 degrees C than at 30 degrees C, and growth did not occur at an incubation temperature of 37 degrees C. In a broth culture medium, growth was enhanced by aeration of the culture and by addition of yeast extract, olive oil, sesame oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, walnut oil, safflower oil, or mineral oil. Glycerol did not noticeably affect growth, but Tween 80 inhibited growth. These fungi were extremely sensitive to cycloheximide, growth being totally inhibited at cycloheximide concentrations ranging from 0.4 to 4.0 mug/ml. To date, the ant-garden fungus isolates have remained viable in long-term mineral oil-overlay storage cultures for up to 4 years.
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Cazin, J. Jr., D.F. Wiemer and J.J. Howard (1989). Isolation, growth characteristics, and long-term storage of fungi cultivated by attine ants. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 55 (6): 1346-50.