How foraging trails are formed and the chemical communication between individual ants is well known. However, communication between partners in mutualistic relationships, such as the leaf-cutting ants (LCA) and their symbiotic fungus, is less studied. There is a feedback mechanism that operates in LCA colonies, with the fungus garden communicating its condition to the ants, most probably using chemicals. We discuss the literature on the chemistry of the LCA–forage–fungus system starting from selection of plants and its effect on the fungus garden. We suggest, using chemical examples, how the fungus might communicate with attendant ants and suggest areas for future research into this fascinating and complex system.
Chemoecology – Springer Journals
Published: May 30, 2018
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