The Genome Sequence of the Leaf-Cutter Ant Atta cephalotes Reveals Insights into Its Obligate Symbiotic Lifestyle
Leaf-cutter ants harvest fresh leaf material which they cut from Neotropical rainforests (a) and use them to grow a fungus that serves as the colony's primary food source (b). These ants display a morphologically diverse caste system that reflects a complex division of labor (c) correlated to specific tasks within the colony. These include small workers that undertake garden management and brood care, medium workers that forage leaves, large workers that can serve as soldiers, and winged sexuals that lose their wings after mating. [Photo Credits: foraging workers, Jarrod J. Scott/University of Wisconsin-Madison; fungus garden, Austin D. Lynch/University of Wisconsin-Madison; caste morphology, used under the GNU Free Documentation License version 1.3].