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Interactions between ANTs and LABoulbeniales fungi

Objective

Biodiversity on Earth ultimately depends on the origin of species by natural selection. Important driving forces of diversification are the evolutionary processes between parasites and their hosts.

The obligate ectoparasitic Laboulbeniales fungi are associated with arthropods. Only some ant species are known hosts, and of only five species of these fungi. Of these five species, only Rickia wasmannii and Laboulbenia camponoti were known from Europe, until recent records of the exotic L. formicarum. These fungi are understudied in Europe and the few references about them are mostly records from new regions. Publications about the physiological and behavioural effect of these fungi on their ant hosts are not available but I hypothesise their strong evolutionary effect on the ants and vice versa. Based on the relatively easy laboratory culturing of ant colonies and to the large proportion of infected individuals within infected ant nests, ants are excellent model organisms to study the interaction of Laboulbeniales fungi with their hosts. Such general principles can potentially help also understand the adaptation mechanisms of other parasite populations to their hosts.

My aim is to provide hitherto missing basic knowledge about the ant-Laboulbeniales system, and to foster deeper study of this interaction. My research will include distribution mapping, investigation of the transmission between ant colonies and testing the physiological and behavioural effect of these fungi on ant colonies. The results can be relevant for conservational questions (e.g. the rarity of R. wasmannii and L. camponoti, if they need any protection; or the effect of the exotic L. formicarum on the native ant species).

This project will enable me to introduce new methods (e.g. GC-MS) and the research atmosphere acquired in Copenhagen (during a Marie Curie IEF), to learn new methods (e.g. SEM), and to collaborate with researchers across Europe, which will benefit my research career.
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Coordinator

DEBRECENI EGYETEM

Address

Egyetem Ter 1
4032 Debrecen

Hungary

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 100 000

Administrative Contact

Zoltán Pozsonyi

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 322110

Status

Closed project

  • Start date

    1 January 2013

  • End date

    31 December 2016

Funded under:

FP7-PEOPLE

  • Overall budget:

    € 100 000

  • EU contribution

    € 100 000

Coordinated by:

DEBRECENI EGYETEM

Hungary