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.
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