International Journal of Environmental Sciences

Volume 4 Issue 3 2013- November 2013    Pages: 432-443  <<Previous    Next>>

An overview of the symbiotic interaction between ants, fungi and other living organisms in ant-hill soils

Author Information:

V Sharma and G Sumbali

University of Jammu, Department of Botany, B.R. Ambedkar Road, Jammu-180006

ABSTRACT

Ants are one of the most abundant insects on the earth. They influence soil properties through the construction of their nests due to their burrowing habit and their capability to change physical characteristics, of their hills.  The food of ants is essentially cellulosic material and since the ants do not produce cellulose dissolving enzymes, digestion of cellulose is carried out with the aid of micro-fauna including fungi, bacteria and microarthopods which are associated with them. Ants are involved in a symbiotic relationship with fungi for the last 50 million years. Most of the workers have attributed that the symbiotic association has evolved to such a level that the ants cease to produce their own digestive enzymes as the fungus associated with them provides them with hydrolytic enzymes and easily assimilated nutrients. An ant-hill is tremendously important for studying mycodiversity because it is built by worker ants that carry tiny pieces of dirt, leaf debris, animal and agricultural wastes from a particular area and deposit them at the mouth of ant colony. Thus, fungal diversity of ant-hill represents the fungal diversity of a particular area.

Key words: Ants, ant-hill, soil properties, cellulose, symbiotic association.

DOI:10.6088/ijes.2013040300018

© 2013 Copyright by the authors, licensee Integrated Publishing Association.This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (3.0) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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