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Index > News Blog > News > ScienceDaily: Texas Leafcutter Ants Aided, but Also Limited, by Cold-Tolerant Fungus Crops, Research Shows

ScienceDaily: Texas Leafcutter Ants Aided, but Also Limited, by Cold-Tolerant Fungus Crops, Research Shows

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Texas leafcutter ants farm crops of fungus that evolved cold tolerance to Texas winters, just as northern farmers cultivate cold weather crops, researchers from The University of Texas at Austin show in a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Though the cold tolerant fungus gives the ants the ability to maintain winter gardens, the fungus is still sensitive enough to cold it limits the ant's ability to spread farther northward.

"The same is true for human farmers," says Ulrich Mueller, professor of biology. "Some of our crops come originally from the tropics, and humans have had to select them over time to grow in colder climates. But we are still limited by our abilities to select and adapt crops to local conditions."

Mueller and his colleagues found that even within Texas the fungus is more tolerant of cold at its northern edge near Dallas, and less tolerant of cold at its southern edge near Brownsville.

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Read the article in PNAS...


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 11:17