Fungus-growing ants have been found recently to be symbiotic with actinomycetes living on the ant's cuticle; these bacteria arc inhibitory to soil fungi that are detrimental to the ants' fungus gardens. In order to investigate whether actinomycetes found on the cuticle of attine ants also had inhibitory properties against plant pathogenic fungi, we isolated 32 strains of actinomycetes from fungus-growing ants (Atta, Trachymyrmex, and Cyphomyrmex), from the Mexican states of Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas. Of the actinomycetes tested against selected plant pathogenic fungi (Alternaria solani, Aspergillus flavus, Colletotrichum lindemuthianum, Rhizoctonia solani, Sclerotium sp.) on Czapek-Dox agar medium, 13 isolates inhibited at least one of the fungi. C. lindemuthianum was inhibited by 11 actinomycetes, and Rhizoctonia by three. An actinomycete strain isolated from Cyphomyrmex rimosus inhibited all five fungi tested.
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