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High Symbiont Relatedness Stabilizes Mutualistic Cooperation in Fungus-Growing Termites

Aanen, D. K.; de Fine Licht, Henrik Hjarvard LU ; Debets, A. J. M.; Kerstes, N. A. G.; Hoekstra, R. F. and Boomsma, J. J. (2009) In Science 326(5956). p.1103-1106
Abstract
It is unclear how mutualistic relationships can be stable when partners disperse freely and have the possibility of forming associations with many alternative genotypes. Theory predicts that high symbiont relatedness should resolve this problem, but the mechanisms to enforce this have rarely been studied. We show that African fungus-growing termites propagate single variants of their Termitomyces symbiont, despite initiating cultures from genetically variable spores from the habitat. High inoculation density in the substrate followed by fusion among clonally related mycelia enhances the efficiency of spore production in proportion to strain frequency. This positive reinforcement results in an exclusive lifetime association of each host... (More)
It is unclear how mutualistic relationships can be stable when partners disperse freely and have the possibility of forming associations with many alternative genotypes. Theory predicts that high symbiont relatedness should resolve this problem, but the mechanisms to enforce this have rarely been studied. We show that African fungus-growing termites propagate single variants of their Termitomyces symbiont, despite initiating cultures from genetically variable spores from the habitat. High inoculation density in the substrate followed by fusion among clonally related mycelia enhances the efficiency of spore production in proportion to strain frequency. This positive reinforcement results in an exclusive lifetime association of each host colony with a single fungal symbiont and hinders the evolution of cheating. Our findings explain why vertical symbiont transmission in fungus-growing termites is rare and evolutionarily derived. (Less)
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author
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
macrotermes-natalensis, evolution, termitomyces, agriculture, isoptera, host, ants, incompatibility, transmission, conflict
in
Science
volume
326
issue
5956
pages
1103 - 1106
publisher
The American Association for the Advancement of Science
external identifiers
  • scopus:70450172174
ISSN
1095-9203
DOI
10.1126/science.1173462
language
English
LU publication?
no
id
a58d8493-3b8f-4aa9-8069-a05f713552f3 (old id 1970637)
date added to LUP
2011-06-14 15:57:36
date last changed
2017-12-10 03:45:17
@article{a58d8493-3b8f-4aa9-8069-a05f713552f3,
  abstract     = {It is unclear how mutualistic relationships can be stable when partners disperse freely and have the possibility of forming associations with many alternative genotypes. Theory predicts that high symbiont relatedness should resolve this problem, but the mechanisms to enforce this have rarely been studied. We show that African fungus-growing termites propagate single variants of their Termitomyces symbiont, despite initiating cultures from genetically variable spores from the habitat. High inoculation density in the substrate followed by fusion among clonally related mycelia enhances the efficiency of spore production in proportion to strain frequency. This positive reinforcement results in an exclusive lifetime association of each host colony with a single fungal symbiont and hinders the evolution of cheating. Our findings explain why vertical symbiont transmission in fungus-growing termites is rare and evolutionarily derived.},
  author       = {Aanen, D. K. and de Fine Licht, Henrik Hjarvard and Debets, A. J. M. and Kerstes, N. A. G. and Hoekstra, R. F. and Boomsma, J. J.},
  issn         = {1095-9203},
  keyword      = {macrotermes-natalensis,evolution,termitomyces,agriculture,isoptera,host,ants,incompatibility,transmission,conflict},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {5956},
  pages        = {1103--1106},
  publisher    = {The American Association for the Advancement of Science},
  series       = {Science},
  title        = {High Symbiont Relatedness Stabilizes Mutualistic Cooperation in Fungus-Growing Termites},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1173462},
  volume       = {326},
  year         = {2009},
}