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The 60-million-year-old collaboration between leaf-cutter ants and fungi

About 60 million years ago, ants and fungi entered into an underground partnership that continues to this day. why?

From Brazil, researcher Pepijn Kooij explains why the two species can’t live without each other in this collaboration, how the ants are used as transporters and the mushroom lets you know if it’s unhappy with the leaves brought in.

Much is already known about cooperation, but not everything. This mushroom is related to our mushroom, but no mushrooms grow from it. For ants – which cause the fungus to spread to new branches of their colonies – this is wasted energy. But how does an ant prevent a fungus from growing anyway?

Something Koeig and his colleagues recently discovered is that this fungus is now beginning to grow in some places. He suspected that this could have something to do with climate change and actually found an association. It remains to be determined whether this change is also bad for cooperation.

Read more about this research here: Climate change affects the primary emergence of leaf-cutting ants

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