home DNews Ants Are Growing Food and They’re Better at It Than We Are

Ants Are Growing Food and They’re Better at It Than We Are

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Believe it or not, ants started farming way before we did. How do they do it?

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Ants Mastered Sustainable Agriculture 30 Million Years Ago

“Ants cultivated designer crops in controlled environments millions of years before humans figured out how to push seeds into the ground to grow food, scientists reported in a study Wednesday. It has long been known that dozens of ants species tend and harvest fungi in subterranean farms, mostly to feed a colony’s larvae. A few species have taken that process to the next level, modifying fungi so thoroughly they can no longer survive in the wild, much in the way some genetically altered crops consumed by humans are not viable without pesticides or other inputs.”

Dry habitats were crucibles of domestication in the evolution of agriculture in ants

“The evolution of ant agriculture, as practised by the fungus-farming ‘attine’ ants, is thought to have arisen in the wet rainforests of South America about 55-65 Ma. Most subsequent attine agricultural evolution, including the domestication event that produced the ancestor of higher attine cultivars, is likewise hypothesized to have occurred in South American rainforests.”

Symbiotic adaptations in the fungal cultivar of leaf-cutting ants

“Centuries of artificial selection have dramatically improved the yield of human agriculture; however, strong directional selection also occurs in natural symbiotic interactions. Fungus-growing attine ants cultivate basidiomycete fungi for food. One cultivar lineage has evolved inflated hyphal tips (gongylidia) that grow in bundles called staphylae, to specifically feed the ants.”


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This episode of Seeker was written and hosted by Trace Dominguez.

50 thoughts on “Ants Are Growing Food and They’re Better at It Than We Are

  1. Sometimes I’m amused how seeker can bring all those videos contents daily. Where do they get the intel? You guys are awesome

  2. Information like this always makes me wonder why so many people think humans are inherently more ‘special’ or ‘higher’ than other animals.

  3. true, but ants eat the same fungus day in day out… who the hell would want to do that?

    *casual dig at vegans*

  4. We could also start using aquaculture to grow large portions of our diet. The space my one car garage takes up could be used to fekw enough vegetables for 10 or so people. Along with fish and some fruits. This would just force us to grow our own food and thus mess with Big Ag so its a no go for now.

  5. There are also ants that farm aphids. The ants eat their secretions. The ants will even massage the aphids to help in the production of those secretions.

  6. don’t bees do the same thing kinda by collecting pollen and making honey.

  7. What if we find a lab inside an ant hill where they are genetically modifying the fungi

  8. Havent ants domesticated little shuger bugs. Ive seen them protect and group the little honey bugs that spew out drops of sweet liquid the ants scoop up like humans milking cows.

  9. Last I checked, there genetic relatives “The Bees” are no different!… Insect colonies only exist, to make there numbers larger period!… They never cared what “They Could?, or Could Not?”, do better period!…

  10. If they so much as wish it, the ants could wipe out every single human being on this planet in mere hours… Ants are fucking awesome!!

  11. Less than 300,000 brain cells on average and yet ants conquered the world. Truly some of the most amazing animals on the planet.

  12. Because ants are computers they only do what they are meant to. nothing matters when they die

  13. Ants also keep livestock. Or, more to the point, aphids that they herd and take to their colonies where they feed them, clean them, and milk them for honeydew. Which they drink.

  14. Ants showing us they are superior than us!

    Whats next?
    An ant invasion?

  15. Ants have a more efficient society than ours, but cmon we are better in everything else.

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