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20170048_0087

© Cyril FRESILLON/CRCA/CNRS Images

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20170048_0087

Fourmis "Atta laevigata" découpant des morceaux de feuille

Ants of the species Atta laevigata cutting and gathering pieces of leaf to feed the fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus. Atta ants, tropical ants from South America also known as leafcutter ants, live in symbiosis with the fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus, which they feed and feed from in turn. The ants known as "majors" or "soldiers" use their powerful jaws to cut the leaves into pieces, which are then transported by the medium-sized workers. The "minors" follow a chemical trail marked on the ground all the way to the nest. They take the sections of leaf, cut them up into smaller pieces and use them to cultivate the fungus, building their nest by hollowing out chambers inside it. In this way, Leucoagaricus gongylophorus proves to be indissociable from the life of the colony.

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