Amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) fingerprinting of symbiotic fungi cultured by the fungus-growing ant Cyphomyrmex minutus


  • UGM is an evolutionary biologist working on the ecology, population genetics, and phylogenetic history of the symbiosis between fungus-growing ants and their fungi. SEL and MGM are plant pathologists working on the population genetics of plant pathogenic fungi and fungal viruses, primarily with the chestnut blight fungus.

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Unit 0948, APO Miami, FL 34002-0948, USA. Fax: +1 507 32 6274.


A PCR-based fingerprinting technique based on amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP) is used to screen symbiotic fungi of the fungus-growing ant Cyphomyrmex minutus for genetic differences. AFLP fingerprints reveal several fungal ‘types’ that (a) represent distinct clones propagated vegetatively by the ant, or (b) correspond to free-living fungi that may be acquired by the ant. Fungal types identified by AFLP fingerprints correspond to vegetative-compatibility groups established previously, suggesting that vegetative compatibility can be used as a crude indicator of genetic differences between fungi of C. minutus.