Agrarian Ants

Today, Roche announced funding for over a dozen genomes of organisms associated with the agricultural attine ants and the fungus they cultivate. In honor of the occasion, here's a sampling of a few of the attine species and their gardens.

i-70c56fdac470a7c4dae4f3de85fd5df7-NrCrassispinus1.jpg
Acromyrmex sp. nr. crassispinus, Argentina.

i-06ac2eb3452c87a6f850bd4c95fd9cb7-hartmanni14.jpg
The fungus of the texan species Mycetosoritis hartmanni is grown on a substrate of caterpillar frass. Not all the attines are leaf-cutters!

i-a68f4bf901c81f348266030ab43f53aa-lundii1.jpg
Acromyrmex lundii, Argentina.

i-df05b019ca33df613b80b5f6d1f29469-auriculatum7.jpg
Apterostigma auriculatum, Panama.

i-76ab659d34d83c7d40639d659a9e6739-texana5.jpg
Atta texana, Texas.

i-989941d05411dee7b0375f6f1e0b3513-wheeleri1.jpg
Cyphomyrmex wheeleri, Arizona.

i-09d48cee70e74792074e94681e741aaa-pomonae2.jpg
Trachymyrmex pomonae, Arizona.

i-ff3709dfbefd0a61e646d5f0499649e6-smithi10.jpg
The parthenogenetic Mycocepurus smithii, Panama.

i-fb1c8e68820266999f2d1e26a359a8e8-Atta3.jpg
Atta cephalotes in the fungus garden.

i-53d11050d834bce2c0c8551c4fdb73c4-cephalotes21.jpg
Atta cephalotes, Panama.

i-ec67207f8f53084beba15f72163cfcc0-Sericomyrmex8.jpg
Sericomyrmex sp., Panama.

More like this

Mycocepurus smithi, in the fungus garden An exciting week for ant aficionados! A new study by ant phylogenetics gurus Ted Schultz and Seán Brady provides the first detailed picture of attine evolution. These New World ants have long attracted the attention of biologists because they, like our…
Sericomyrmex ants in a laboratory fungus garden The textbook version of the leafcutter ant and its fungus is a simple story: attine ants cultivate an edible fungus in their nests.  They are obligate farmers, eating only the fungus, and the fungus is a specialized cultivar found only in ant nests…
Atta cephalotes, in the fungus garden Big ant news today!  Roche Applied Sciences is apparently funding the sequencing of a series of genomes- three ant and an array of fungal and microbial genomes- in an ambitious project to better understand the relationships among the players in the celebrated…
I apologize for the slow blogging this weekend. We took a little road trip up to beautiful Madison, Wisconsin and were too busy with bratwurst, cheese, beer, and roller derby to bother with the internet. Atta cephalotes in the fungus garden The University of Wisconsin is home to Cameron Currie,…

I'm just curious - how far do you have to travel to get so many varieties of insects? Or, maybe more pertinently, how much variety of insects could a (very) amateur photographer capture within a block or two of their home? A mile?

Thanks! Love the insect pix!

Great shots, Alex. I especially like the Acromyrmex lundii shot, since there´s a lot of them in my city (I´m from Argentina). Nice focusing too... since I read about the Canon MP-E 65mm, I can imagine what a pain it must be to get a sharp focus like that.

Saludos from the south!

How the #@$& did you get the picture of the mold growing on caterpillar frass? Or the one that looks like a stalactite? That ain't no Toys-R-Us ant farm...

Samantha: You'd be surprised how many kinds of insects you can find in your own yard. As a (very) amateur myself, I've photographed over 100 distinct kinds of bugs in my yard, and this isn't even a start - there are hundreds more that I just haven't gotten around to photographing yet.