Crops farmed by leafcutter ants show signs of domestication

日期:2019-03-02 10:19:09 作者:仲长甾戌 阅读:

LEAFCUTTER ants in South America’s rainforests beat us to the invention of farming by 50 million years. Now it seems that their crops have undergone the same genetic changes as ours. As people selectively bred new plants, they inadvertently made changes to their genomes. Wheat, bananas and tobacco are now polyploid – they have three or more copies of each chromosome rather than the usual two. Pepijn Kooij’s team at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark have discovered that leafcutter ant crops are the same. The fungus they farm is polyploid, while the fungi kept by less specialised ants have just two copies of each chromosome. Polyploid plants are larger and more robust, perhaps explaining why leafcutter ant populations – like human populations – are so large (Journal of Evolutionary Biology,