Phenylacetic acid degradation regulation in Acromyrmex ant-associated and non-ant associated Pseudonocardia strains in the context of pathogen co-cultivation
Barnett, Katherine Mary
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The Acromyrmex ant agriculture system is a highly evolved symbiosis that involves four organisms; the Attine ants, the fungal cultivars, the bacterium Pseudonocardia, and the fungal pathogen Escovopsis. The bacterium Pseudonocardia is found on the surface of the Acromyrmex ants' exoskeleton and is known to produce antimicrobial compounds against the parasitic fungus Escovopsis. Phenylacetic acid (PAA) is a compound of interest because Attine ants produce it, Pseudonocardia strains have a conserved PAA degradation gene cluster, and it has showed greater growth suppression of Escovopsis than when compared to other pathogens. I planned analyze differential regulation of PAA catabolism expression in Pseudonocardia strains isolated from ant colonies and strains isolated from non-ant sources in the context of co-cultivation with Escovopsis, a generalist fungal pathogen Trichoderma, or no pathogen.