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  Ants 2016  

Ant interactions with fungi, microbes, other insects, and plants
Insights from integrative approaches

A symposium to be held at the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Germany
5 - 7 May 2016 organized by Susanne S. Renner and Guillaume Chomicki

The symposium is open to the public.
Scientific posters and additional oral contributions are being accepted now.
For information and registration email: renner@lmu.de

With about 12,500 named species, ants are the largest group of eusocial insects. Their 10,000 trillions of individuals equal the global human biomass (Hölldobler and Wilson, 1990). Interactions of ants with other insects, fungi, microbes, and plants are central themes in ecology and evolution, and more generally, understanding of interactions among species has been a long-standing challenge for evolutionary biologists.
Ants 2016 is the first conference of its kind. Its main goals are to (i) bring together scientists working on the interactions of ants with other organisms, (ii) identify gaps and opportunities for future research, and (iii) illustrate new approaches for investigating ant/biome interactions.

A selection of the presentations at the conference will be published in spring 2017 as a Special Feature volume of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

The scientific talks will be short, and there will be ample time for discussion, taking in the posters, or visiting the Botanical Garden, where the meeting will take place.

Hydnophytum wilkinsonii, a facultative ant-plant from Fiji

Philidris nagasau ant foraging on Squamellaria post-floral nectaries

Research on ant interactions with plants, fungi, and other insects is making great progress because we can now identify interacting partners via their DNA, because chemical analyses are becoming easier and more sophisticated, and because non-invasive imaging methods are allowing us to see into plant structures occupied by ants, which was never before possible. Integrative research on ant interactions, including fieldwork and behavioural experiments, is at the core of the Ant 2016 conference.

Symposium program – Ants and their biotic environments

Thursday, 5 May
10:00 - 10:15 Prof. Dr. Susanne Renner, Univ. of Munich, Germany:
10:15 - 11:00 Keynote lecture, Martin Heil, CINVESTAV - Irapuato, Mexico:
Phenotypic adjustments for an optimized functioning of mutualisms
11:00 - 11:30 Susanne Foitzik, Univ. of Mainz, Germany:
Host/parasite interactions and the evolution of ant behavior
11:30 - 12:00 Jürgen Heinze, Univ. of Regensburg, Germany:
Males, the forgotten sex
Lunch (posters will be up)
14:00 - 14:30 Florian Menzel, Univ. of Mainz, Germany:
The chemical basis of ant/arthropod interactions
14:30 - 15:00 Heike Feldhaar, Univ. of Bayreuth, Germany, coauthored with Corrie Moreau, Field Museum, Chicago, USA:
Bacterial endosymbionts of ants: Widening the ecological niche
15:00 - 15:30 Rumsais Blatrix, Centre Nat. Recherche Scientifique, Montpellier, France, coauthored with Veronika Mayer, Univ. of Vienna, Austria:
A functional and evolutionary perspective of fungiculture of Chaetothyriales (black yeasts) by tropical tree-dwelling ants
30 min coffee break (near the posters)
16:00 - 16:30 Christian Rabeling, Univ. of Rochester, NY, USA:
Evolution and speciation patterns of obligate social parasites in fungus-growing ants
16:30 - 17:15 Ulrich Mueller, Univ. of Texas-Austin, TX, USA:
A novel agricultural tool copied from fungus-growing ants: Host-mediated artificial microbiome-selection to engineer beneficial microbiomes
17:15 - 17:45 Jérôme Orivel, Centre Nat. Recherche Scientifique, Kourou, French Guiana:
Trade-offs in mutualistic investments in a tripartite symbiosis
19:00 Dinner for the speakers
Friday, 6 May
09:00 - 09:45 Evan P. Economo, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan:
The macroecology of ant mutualisms
09:45 - 10:15 Walter Federle, Zoology, Univ. of Cambridge, UK:
Biomechanics of ant/plant mutualisms
10:15 - 10:45 Ulrike Bauer, Univ. of Bristol, UK:
The perfect ant trap: How carnivorous pitcher plants outsmart their prey
30 min coffee break (near the posters)
11:15 - 11:45 Christoph von Beeren, Technical Univ. Darmstadt, Germany:
Biodiversity, life history adaptations and host specificity in army ant-associated insects
11:45 - 12:30 Erol Akcay, Univ. of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA:
Evolutionary models of mutualisms
14:00 - 14:45 Naomi Pierce, coauthored with Mark A.B. Cornwall, both Harvard Univ., MA, USA:
From parasitism to mutualism, lycaenid caterpillar manipulation and the colony growth rates of its attendant ants
14:45 - 15:15 Elizabeth Pringle, Univ. of Nevada, Reno, NV, USA, currently Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Germany:
From micro to macro, the trophic regulation of ant/plant/hemipteran mutualisms
30 min coffee break (near the posters)
15:45 - 16:15 Philip S. Ward, University of California, Davis, USA:
The acacia-ants revisited: phylogeny and biogeography of an iconic ant/plant mutualism
16:15 - 17:00 Milan Janda, Univ. of Guanajuato, Mexico, and Czech Acad. Sci., Budweis, Czech Republic:
Ant/plant interactions in New Guinea and evolution of plant associations in Philidris ants
17:00 - 17:30 Guillaume Chomicki, coauthored with Susanne S. Renner, both Univ. of Munich (LMU), Germany:
Gain and loss of specialization in various symbioses between Philidris and Rubiaceae
17:30 - 18:00 Concluding remarks, info. about the excursion; Susanne S. Renner
Saturday, 7 May
09:30 Start of excursion to Starnberg Lake or Jochberg in the Alps

Download program, abstracts, poster, on Twitter
From the airport to the Ibis hotel


The venue is the Botanical Institute, located in the 21 ha large, world famous Munich Botanical Garden (see Wikipedia), next to the Nymphenburg Palace garden (210 ha). May is a spectacular month in Munich, and the Bavarian lakes and Alps are within a one-hour drive, as is Salzburg.

3D model of Hydnophytum tenuiflorum domatium, colours show the distinct (not linked) cavities.

3D model of Squamellaria imberbis domatium cast

Last update: 2016-05-04