Historically, it was believed that the fungus-growing ants kept their fungal gardens free monoculture parasites,this thinking changed over the years revealing a hard struggle of the leaf-cutting ants, which is not always effective to keep at bay all possible enemies of fungal garden.
To be reproduced asexually as clonal monocultures (ie their genetic structure and environmental adaptations have not changed in several million years), the fungal gardens of zompopas are easy prey to the constant pressure of parasitism by microorganisms.That is why the fungal symbionts have developed a dependence on the ants to take charge of their protection.
Among the studies that have been done in fungal gardens found frequent contamination with exotic mushrooms, among which the most frequently encountered is the microhongo Escovopsis.
Escovopsis is a parasite that feeds on other fungi and has specialized in consuming the symbiont fungus of zompopas. This parasite secretes compounds that degrade the cells of its host when it is in contact with and absorbs the nutrients released.
Although Escovopsis can not be transmitted vertically between the colonies of leaf-cutting, this has prevailed in the history of zompopas for many millions of years.
This have shown that various mechanisms so the parasite which is transmitted between colonies pollution.
This has presented a problem for the colonies of leaf-cutting as their presence in the garden for a prolonged period ends with the death of the fungus cultivated and subsequent starvation of the colony, forcing many times to the queen and her workers to escape taking with healthy parasite fungus in the hope of founding a new colony.
Escovopsis leads alongside the zompopas long in a fight hand to hand to see which is higher, so everyone has been making new tools and adaptations that allow you to try to always be one step ahead.
All this also plans a great possibility of being faced with a possible biological control method to control the great plagues that represent zompopas for growing areas throughout America, this puesEscovopsis a unique parasite of leafcutter ants (so only the attack them).
This would represent an economic and sustainable way to control as persistent as the leaf-cutting ants are animal.