Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 506193
Title Oligocene termite nests with in situ fungus gardens from the rukwa rift basin, Tanzania, support a paleogene african origin for insect agriculture
Author(s) Roberts, Eric M.; Todd, Christopher N.; Aanen, Duur K.; Nobre, Tania; Hilbert-Wolf, Hannah L.; O'Connor, Patrick M.; Tapanila, Leif; Mtelela, Cassy; Stevens, Nancy J.
Source PLoS One 11 (2016)6. - ISSN 1932-6203
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0156847
Department(s) Laboratory of Genetics
PE&RC
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2016
Abstract

Based on molecular dating, the origin of insect agriculture is hypothesized to have taken place independently in three clades of fungus-farming insects: the termites, ants or ambrosia beetles during the Paleogene (66-24 Ma). Yet, definitive fossil evidence of fungus-growing behavior has been elusive, with no unequivocal records prior to the late Miocene (7-10 Ma). Here we report fossil evidence of insect agriculture in the form of fossil fungus gardens, preserved within 25 Ma termite nests from southwestern Tanzania. Using these well-dated fossil fungus gardens, we have recalibrated molecular divergence estimates for the origins of termite agriculture to around 31 Ma, lending support to hypotheses suggesting an African Paleogene origin for termite-fungus symbiosis; perhaps coinciding with rift initiation and changes in the African landscape.

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