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Ant mediated redistribution of a xyloglucanase enzyme in fungus gardens of Acromyrmex echinatior

Overview of attention for article published in BMC Microbiology, May 2016
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (77th percentile)

Mentioned by

10 tweeters


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Readers on

26 Mendeley
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Ant mediated redistribution of a xyloglucanase enzyme in fungus gardens of Acromyrmex echinatior
Published in
BMC Microbiology, May 2016
DOI 10.1186/s12866-016-0697-4
Pubmed ID

Pepijn W. Kooij, Jeroen W. M. Pullens, Jacobus J. Boomsma, Morten Schiøtt


Xyloglucan is an important component in plant cell walls that herbivores cannot digest without microbial symbionts. Leaf-cutting ants are major insect herbivores in the Neo-Tropics that rely on fungus-garden enzymes for degrading plant cell walls. However, many of these ants discard much of their harvested plant material after partial degradation, which has led to the hypothesis that the fungal symbionts are primarily producing cell wall degrading enzymes to gain access to intracellular nutrients rather than for obtaining sugars from recalcitrant cell wall polymers, such as (hemi-)cellulose. The fungal symbiont provides a single xyloglucanase (Xeg1) to its ant farmers by upregulating the expression of this protein in the inflated hyphal tips (gongylidia) that the ants ingest. Similar to other enzymes ingested this way, also Xeg1 is not digested but vectored to the fresh leaf-fragment pulp at the top of fungus gardens via ant fecal fluid. Xeg1 is 4-5 times more active in fecal fluid when ants ingest their normal fungal food, compared to a sucrose control diet, as expected when they cannot produce Xeg1 themselves. We confirm substrate specificity of fungal Xeg1 towards xyloglucan by heterologous expression in yeast and show that xyloglucanase activity is higher in the oldest, bottom layers of fungus gardens and in discarded debris material than in the upper and middle layers of fungus gardens. Our results are consistent with Xeg1 playing a role in the initial breakdown of plant cell wall hemicellulose to provide sugars for aggressive hyphal growth before intracellular proteins become available. Xeg1 does not play a major decomposition role in the middle layer of fungus gardens where it is produced by the gongylidia. Overall high xyloglucanase activity in old mycelium that is (about to be) discarded is striking and quite possibly serves defensive purposes by precluding that competing microorganisms can grow. Our results support the hypothesis that the ant-fungus symbiosis prioritizes access to the protein-rich contents of live plant cells and that carbohydrates are not a limiting resource.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 10 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 26 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 26 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Researcher 5 19%
Student > Ph. D. Student 4 15%
Student > Bachelor 4 15%
Student > Doctoral Student 2 8%
Student > Master 2 8%
Other 4 15%
Unknown 5 19%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 10 38%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 4 15%
Environmental Science 2 8%
Psychology 2 8%
Nursing and Health Professions 1 4%
Other 3 12%
Unknown 4 15%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 7. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 16 February 2017.
All research outputs
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Outputs from BMC Microbiology
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Outputs of similar age
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Altmetric has tracked 12,473,273 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done well and is in the 82nd percentile: it's in the top 25% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 1,835 research outputs from this source. They receive a mean Attention Score of 3.8. This one has done well, scoring higher than 85% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 264,811 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done well, scoring higher than 77% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 1 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than all of them