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Fungus-growing ants – Department of Biology - University of Copenhagen

Social Evolution > CSE Research > Fungus-growing ants

Fungus-growing ants

This program started in 1993 with Panama as field location under the auspices of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. It initially focused on mating system evolution, disease pressure, sex allocation and social parasitism and went on to also investigate the evolutionary stability of the various obligate mutualisms that attine fungus-growing maintain. Explicitly molecular approaches based on now available reference genomes have been added in recent years, focusing on protein-level adaptations in sperm and seminal fluid, bacterial gut microbiomes, fungal enzymes, and imprinted genes.

Model Organisms

Fungus-growing ants

Bacterial symbionts

Symbiotic fungi

Pathogenic fungi


Behavioural experiments

Chemical analyses

Genetic analyses


Immune assays

Laboratory colonies


Principal Investigator

Jacobus (Koos) Boomsma


Co-PIs (Internal)

Morten Schiøtt

Research Associate

Guojie Zhang

Assistant Professor

Co-PIs (External)

Boris Baer

CIBER Director

William Wcislo

LBEN Director


Tabitha Innocent

Panagiotis Sapountzis

Mariya Zhukova

Jon Shik


PhD students

Joanito Liberti

Jack Howe

Bitao Qi