Ant colonies promote the diversity of soil microbial communities

ISME J. 2019 Apr;13(4):1114-1118. doi: 10.1038/s41396-018-0335-2. Epub 2019 Jan 3.


Little is known about the role of ant colonies in regulating the distribution and diversity of soil microbial communities across large spatial scales. Here, we conducted a survey across >1000 km in eastern Australia and found that, compared with surrounding bare soils, ant colonies promoted the richness (number of phylotypes) and relative abundance of rare taxa of fungi and bacteria. Ant nests were also an important reservoir for plant pathogens. Our study also provides a portfolio of microbial phylotypes only found in ant nests, and which are associated with high nutrient availability. Together, our work highlights the fact that ant nests are an important refugia for microbial diversity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ants*
  • Australia
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Biodiversity
  • Fungi / classification
  • Fungi / isolation & purification
  • Microbiota*
  • Soil Microbiology*

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.7092920
  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.7092950