Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]

Alternative Title

Atta cephalotes (Formicidae) como un bioensayo confiable de compuestos anti micóticas en las plantas de Monteverde, Costa Rica


Annie Chisholm



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Publication Date

December 2007


Studies have shown Atta cephalotes (Formicidae) to be selective in choosing host plants, avoiding those that contain nonpolar secondary compounds harmful to their mutualistic fungus (Howard 1988). Due to this selectivity, several studies have found A. cephalotes to be a reliable bioassay tool for detecting antifungal properties of plants (Ozaki 1993; Taylor 1995). This experiment tests the acceptability of A. cephalotes towards six Costa Rican plants with known anti-fungal compounds. It was hypothesized that A. cephalotes would selectively avoid extracts of these plants. The frequency of removal of oat flakes dipped in the anti-fungal and control treatments was measured. A. cephalotes preferred the control to the anti-fungal extracts for six of the seven treatments: Allium satium, Oreopanax sp., Phytolacca rivinoides, Nectandra membranacea, Bocconia frutescens, and the commercial fungicide (10% propanodiol). However, there was no difference in preference between Heliconia sp. and control treatments. These results suggest that this species is a reliable bioassay tool for detecting anti-fungal compounds in medicinal plants.


Estudios han demostrado que Atta cephalotes (Formicidae) es selectiva en sus plantas hospederas, evita aquellas que contienen compuestos secundarios no polares dañinos para su hongo mutualista. Debido a esta selectividad varios estudios han encontrado que estas hormigas son buenas indicadoras de las propiedades anti micóticas en las plantas.


Ants--Behavior, Biological assay, CIEE Fall 2007

Palabras claves

Hormigas--Comportamiento, Ensayo biológico, CIEE Otoño 2007


6 pages

Geographic Location

Monteverde (Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

Holding Location

Monteverde Institute


English; Spanish

Media Type



Digital Only





Atta cephalotes (Formicidae) as a reliable bioassay for anti-fungal compounds in plants of Monteverde, Costa Rica, December 2007



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