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Revista de Biología Tropical

On-line version ISSN 0034-7744Print version ISSN 0034-7744


URIBE LONDONO, Miguel; ROMERO-TABAREZ, Magally  and  ORTIZ-REYES, Adriana. Bacterial extracts for the control of Atta cephalotes (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and its symbiotic fungus Leucoagaricus gongylophorus (Agaricales: Agaricaceae). Rev. biol. trop [online]. 2019, vol.67, n.4, pp.1010-1022. ISSN 0034-7744.


Leaf-cutting ants Atta cephalotes (Linnaeus) are one of the main insect pests in Latin America; these ants (along with Acromyrmex spp.) present a unique characteristic amongst ants, - the cultivation of the Leucoagaricus gongylophorus Möller (Singer) fungus as a food source. They belong to tribe Attini and build nests in underground chambers which are interconnected by pathways. These voracious ants have attacked over 45 crop fields in Colombia. The main control method has been the use of synthetic chemical products; however, alternative control measures must be established. One alternative that has a great potential are bacteria and their secondary metabolites.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the insecticidal and antifungal effect of bacterial extracts on major worker A. cephalotes ants and the L. gongylophorus fungus. Methods: A total of 118 extracts produced by the same number of bacteria were evaluated. Among the strains that produced the active extracts were: Serratia sp., Xenorhabdus nematophila, Photorhabdus sp., and Bacillus thuringiensis. From each bacterium, extracts were prepared to test both insecticidal and repellent activity on worker ants, also to evaluate growth inhibition assays on L. gongylophorus.


Seventeen extracts showed insecticidal activity upon contact, 13 by ingestion, while 8 showed antifungal activity that was statistically significant. In total, 23 bacterial extracts exhibited some type of activity to control Atta cephalotes.


The results show 23 bacterial extracts with some type of activity to control A. cephalotes, which exposes the potential there is to explore bacteria, especially entomopathogenic bacteria, which may contain interesting genes for the biological control of insects.

Keywords : antifungal bioassay; bacteria; contact toxicity; ingestion bioassay; leaf-cutting ants.

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