Anti-pathogen protection versus survival costs mediated by an ectosymbiont in an ant host

M. Konrad, A.V. Grasse, S. Tragust, S. Cremer, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences 282 (2015).


Journal Article | Published | English
Department
Abstract
The fitness effects of symbionts on their hosts can be context-dependent, with usually benign symbionts causing detrimental effects when their hosts are stressed, or typically parasitic symbionts providing protection towards their hosts (e.g. against pathogen infection). Here, we studied the novel association between the invasive garden ant Lasius neglectus and its fungal ectosymbiont Laboulbenia formicarum for potential costs and benefits. We tested ants with different Laboulbenia levels for their survival and immunity under resource limitation and exposure to the obligate killing entomopathogen Metarhizium brunneum. While survival of L. neglectus workers under starvation was significantly decreased with increasing Laboulbenia levels, host survival under Metarhizium exposure increased with higher levels of the ectosymbiont, suggesting a symbiont-mediated anti-pathogen protection, which seems to be driven mechanistically by both improved sanitary behaviours and an upregulated immune system. Ants with high Laboulbenia levels showed significantly longer self-grooming and elevated expression of immune genes relevant for wound repair and antifungal responses (β-1,3-glucan binding protein, Prophenoloxidase), compared with ants carrying low Laboulbenia levels. This suggests that the ectosymbiont Laboulbenia formicarum weakens its ant host by either direct resource exploitation or the costs of an upregulated behavioural and immunological response, which, however, provides a prophylactic protection upon later exposure to pathogens.
Publishing Year
Date Published
2015-01-22
Journal Title
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences
Acknowledgement
Funding was obtained by the German Research Foundation (CR 118–2) and an ERC StG (243071) by the European Research Council (both to S.C.). We thank Line V. Ugelvig for help with ant collection and statistical discussion, Xavier Espadaler for detailed information on the ant collection site, Birgit Lautenschläger for the electron microscopy images and Eva Sixt for ant drawings. We further thank Jørgen Eilenberg for the fungal strain, Meghan L. Vyleta for genetic strain characterization and immune gene primer development, Paul Schmid-Hempel for discussion, and Line V. Ugelvig, Xavier Espadaler and Christopher D. Pull for comments on the manuscript. S.C., M.K. and S.T. conceived the study; M.K. and A.V.G. performed the experiments; M.K. performed the statistical analysis; S.C. and M.K. wrote the manuscript with intense contributions of A.V.G. and S.T.; all authors approved the manuscript.
Acknowledged SSUs
Volume
282
Issue
1799
IST-REx-ID

Cite this

Konrad M, Grasse AV, Tragust S, Cremer S. Anti-pathogen protection versus survival costs mediated by an ectosymbiont in an ant host. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences. 2015;282(1799). doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.1976
Konrad, M., Grasse, A. V., Tragust, S., & Cremer, S. (2015). Anti-pathogen protection versus survival costs mediated by an ectosymbiont in an ant host. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences, 282(1799). https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.1976
Konrad, Matthias, Anna V Grasse, Simon Tragust, and Sylvia Cremer. “Anti-Pathogen Protection versus Survival Costs Mediated by an Ectosymbiont in an Ant Host.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences 282, no. 1799 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.1976.
M. Konrad, A. V. Grasse, S. Tragust, and S. Cremer, “Anti-pathogen protection versus survival costs mediated by an ectosymbiont in an ant host,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences, vol. 282, no. 1799, 2015.
Konrad M, Grasse AV, Tragust S, Cremer S. 2015. Anti-pathogen protection versus survival costs mediated by an ectosymbiont in an ant host. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences. 282(1799).
Konrad, Matthias, et al. “Anti-Pathogen Protection versus Survival Costs Mediated by an Ectosymbiont in an Ant Host.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B Biological Sciences, vol. 282, no. 1799, Royal Society, 2015, doi:10.1098/rspb.2014.1976.

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