Microbial Composition in Two Ant Species Across a Geographic Region in Florida

Patricia Perez

Authors:  Patricia Perez, Tori Argenti, Andrew Nisip, Marina Ascunce

Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Marina Ascunce

College:   College of Agricultural and Life Sciences

Abstract

Microbes’ symbiotic relationships with their host are thought to be one of the factors responsible for the ecological success of many plants and animals, like ants. However, the nature and dynamic of microbial communities in the invasive Solenopsis invicta, the Red Imported Fire Ant, is unknown. In this study, we characterize the bacterial community of S. invicta and Dorymyrmex bureni, a native ant, where both species live in sympatry at the UF Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce and at the UF Ordway-Swisher Biological Station in Melrose. It has been found that many species of ants possess diverse and stable microbial communities. Thus, we hypothesize that the microbial communities in S. invicta and in D. bureni, are going to be different, while within each species different sites are going to have similar microbes. Ants were collected using pitfall traps, for S. invicta ants were also directly sampled from their nests. Analysis is being done using QIIME and R software on highthroughput bacterial ribosomal 16S amplicon sequencing data. Conclusions reached by this study will allow for a further understanding of how the invasive S. invicta interacts with Florida’s native environment compared to a native ant like D. bureni.

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Marina Ascunce
Marina Ascunce (@guest_188)
1 year ago

Hi!
Thank you for visiting our poster. We are holding an open zoom virtual presentation from 3 to 4pm, and with an special family and kids friendly talk from 3:45 to 4pm, please join us using the link below.

Join Zoom Meeting
https://ufl.zoom.us/j/417389623?pwd=VWgxTmhLUkFDUFRiRWtDdmpSTHhkQT09

Meeting ID: 417 389 623
Password: iris2020

If you are interested in our research topic on Ants and Microbes or would like a virtual educational visit, please email Dr. Ascunce (ascunce@ufl.edu) and also visit our companion poster: https://cur.aa.ufl.edu/2020/03/31/cure-ants-and-microbes-zollota-perez-allen-and-argeni/
(also available for zoom from 3 to 4pm).
Dr. Ascunce

Patricia Perez
Patricia Perez (@guest_1778)
Reply to  Marina Ascunce
1 year ago

I will have a zoom call open for anyone who would like to ask questions or supply comments live!

https://ufl.zoom.us/j/417389623?pwd=VWgxTmhLUkFDUFRiRWtDdmpSTHhkQT09

Patricia Perez
Patricia Perez (@guest_4358)
Reply to  Patricia Perez
1 year ago

Technical difficulties Sorry!

new zoom link.
https://ufl.zoom.us/j/702349325

Patricia Perez
Patricia Perez (@guest_196)
1 year ago

Hi!
Thank you for visiting our poster. We are holding an open zoom virtual presentation for our lab’s CURE class from 3 to 4pm, and with an special family and kids friendly talk from 3:45 to 4pm, please join us using the link below.
Join Zoom Meeting
https://ufl.zoom.us/j/417389623?pwd=VWgxTmhLUkFDUFRiRWtDdmpSTHhkQT09
Meeting ID: 417 389 623
Password: iris2020
If you are interested in our research topic on Ants and Microbes or would like a virtual educational visit, please email Dr. Ascunce (ascunce@ufl.edu) and also visit our companion poster: https://cur.aa.ufl.edu/2020/03/31/cure-ants-and-microbes-zollota-perez-allen-and-argeni/

Patricia Perez
Patricia Perez (@guest_198)
1 year ago

Hi!
Thank you for visiting our poster. We are holding an open zoom virtual presentation for our lab’s CURE class from 3 to 4pm, and with an special family and kids friendly talk from 3:45 to 4pm, please join us using the link below.
Join Zoom Meeting
https://ufl.zoom.us/j/417389623?pwd=VWgxTmhLUkFDUFRiRWtDdmpSTHhkQT09
Meeting ID: 417 389 623
Password: iris2020
If you are interested in our research topic on Ants and Microbes or would like a virtual educational visit, please email Dr. Ascunce (ascunce@ufl.edu) and also visit our companion poster: https://cur.aa.ufl.edu/2020/03/31/cure-ants-and-microbes-zollota-perez-allen-and-argeni/

Joana
Joana (@guest_5566)
1 year ago

Hi Patricia,
What similar microbes did both D. bureni and s. invicta have?

Patricia Perez
Patricia Perez (@guest_5754)
Reply to  Joana
1 year ago

Hi Jieli!

We actually have not gotten the chance to fully sequence all the ants, so while I know what overlap has been found in other studies I do not know what overlap there is in the ants we collected.

Thank you for your comment

Jieli W
Jieli W (@guest_7760)
Reply to  Patricia Perez
1 year ago

You’re welcome c:

My question is on the collection and identification process of your ant samples. How difficult/time consuming was it for you to ID each ant and what were the primary defining characteristics you used? Also, did you plan to include differences between the castes of minor and major worker ants for each species?

Thank you for your presentation!

Patricia Perez
Patricia Perez (@guest_11022)
Reply to  Jieli W
1 year ago

Hello!

Each pitfall trap had to be sorted into different species present, and from there each species was identified and separated into separate vials. It was somewhat time consuming and repetitive but resulted in sound consistent identification. The diversity of ants found meant that many morphological features came into play like petiole shape and number, head shape, hair distribution and size, as well as shape of teeth on mandible. Minor and Major workers where found throughout the sites and traps.

Patricia Perez
Patricia Perez (@guest_5798)
Reply to  Joana
1 year ago

*Joana

So sorry I posted under the wrong comment!

Sara Sutton
Sara Sutton (@guest_5794)
1 year ago

Hi Patricia! This is such an interesting project! I was wondering if you think the bacteria associated with the S. invicta ants might have a negative effect on the native Dorymyrmex buremi? Thanks!

Patricia Perez
Patricia Perez (@guest_6714)
Reply to  Sara Sutton
1 year ago

Well, ants can horizontally transfer bacteria and acquire bacteria from the environment to some degree as well as affect the bacterial diversity in the soil around their nests, but I am not familiar with any literature that supports direct use of bacteria on other ants as a possible strategy of S. invicta. The diversity of bacteria in S. invicta could have been a key to its success in their invasive range and could have made it a better competitor for resources against native ants like D. bureni, however, this effect is not direct.

Caroline McMillan
Caroline McMillan (@guest_6012)
1 year ago

Hey Patricia!
Great poster and presentation! I was wondering, however, if ants in same species mostly have similar bacterial diversity, in what studies/situations would this not be true? What would have to be different in order for the same species to have significant difference in bacterial diversity?

Patricia Perez
Patricia Perez (@guest_6358)
Reply to  Caroline McMillan
1 year ago

My understanding is that there are some studies such as one on Oecophylla smaragdina that found that ants in urban and forested areas have different gut compositions even though they are in the same species. There are studies on genera like Cepholate, Pheidole, and Polyrhachis where the investigators have found that there are some bacterial groups that are not shared between all the species in the genera, but these findings were not significant enough to identify each species. Having a statistically significant difference would mean bacterial diversity that is unique to one and only one species.

Emily Miller
Emily Miller (@guest_6082)
1 year ago

Hi Patricia! Love your poster! Why did you decide to use QIME compared to other bioinformatics pipelines? Are there any particular benefits or potential biases you foresee?

Jade Monteiro
Jade Monteiro (@guest_6088)
1 year ago

Hi Patricia! Could you elaborate on what the significance would be if there was an overlap in the microbial communities of the two ants? Thanks!

Patricia Perez
Patricia Perez (@guest_6424)
Reply to  Jade Monteiro
1 year ago

A significant difference would mean having bacteria that is exclusive to one and only one species, or having a bacteria that is not present in all the species in one genus but is present in all samples of one species in that genera.

Ryan Husain
Ryan Husain (@guest_6734)
1 year ago

Hi,
Would ants of the same species reared in very different environments, such as in the lab vs in their natural habitat, show different microbial communities due to different needs?

Patricia Perez
Patricia Perez (@guest_11024)
Reply to  Ryan Husain
1 year ago

Differences between lab reared ants and non lab reared ants have been found, as well as some differences between the same species collected from different environments. It is not definitely known why there are differences, I’d say it’s a topic that will be elucidated on as investigation on the topic persists.

Allen Wysocki - Associate Dean CALS
Allen Wysocki - Associate Dean CALS (@guest_7522)
1 year ago

Patricia,

Sorry that I could not join the Zoom meeting. I am still trying to view all the videos. I enjoyed learning about your research,. Sounds like you learned a lot from your experience.

Doc W