Mycetagroicus cerradensis

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Mycetagroicus cerradensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Myrmicinae
Tribe: Attini
Genus: Mycetagroicus
Species: M. cerradensis
Binomial name
Mycetagroicus cerradensis
Brandão & Mayhé-Nunes, 2001

Mycetagroicus cerradensis casent0178478 profile 1.jpg

Mycetagroicus cerradensis casent0178478 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label

Combining in formation from labels and field notes of Kempf and Lenko, we can say that this species occurs in the “cerrado” (samples #4151, 4246, and 4472). Although we have no clear information on the collecting sites of most samples, all localities we listed above are (or were) cerrado areas. Lenko recorded nests as subterranean, with one circular entrance circled by a 3 mm sand crater, surrounded by a 5 cm high mound with 12 cm at base. He has also recorded the workers of sample #4472 carrying minute plant fragments and very small seeds of grasses and other unspecified items. The Botucatu sample label says “pasture.” (Brandao and Mayhe-Nunes 2001)


Brandao and Mayhe-Nunes (2001) - Mycetagroicus cerradensis is easily recognized by three features: the presence of two prominent clypeal concave projections, rounded at apex, the subtriangular frontal lobes, and the absence of median pronotal teeth.

Keys including this Species


Latitudinal Distribution Pattern

Latitudinal Range: -15.78333333° to -24.1°.

Tropical South

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Neotropical Region: Brazil (type locality).

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb

Countries Occupied

Number of countries occupied by this species based on AntWiki Regional Taxon Lists. In general, fewer countries occupied indicates a narrower range, while more countries indicates a more widespread species.

Estimated Abundance

Relative abundance based on number of AntMaps records per species (this species within the purple bar). Fewer records (to the left) indicates a less abundant/encountered species while more records (to the right) indicates more abundant/encountered species.


Explore-icon.png Explore Fungus Growing 
For additional details see Fungus growing ants.

A handful of ant species (approx. 275 out of the known 15,000 species) have developed the ability to cultivate fungus within their nests. In most species the fungus is used as the sole food source for the larvae and is an important resource for the adults as well. Additionally, in a limited number of cases, the fungus is used to construct part of the nest structure but is not as a food source.

These fungus-feeding species are limited to North and South America, extending from the pine barrens of New Jersey, United States, in the north (Trachymyrmex septentrionalis) to the cold deserts in Argentina in the south (several species of Acromyrmex). Species that use fungi in nest construction are known from Europe and Africa (a few species in the genera Crematogaster, Lasius).

The details of fungal cultivation are rich and complex. First, a wide variety of materials are used as substrate for fungus cultivating. The so-called lower genera include species that prefer dead vegetation, seeds, flowers, fruits, insect corpses, and feces, which are collected in the vicinity of their nests. The higher genera include non leaf-cutting species that collect mostly fallen leaflets, fruit, and flowers, as well as the leafcutters that collect fresh leaves from shrubs and trees. Second, while the majority of fungi that are farmed by fungus-feeding ants belong to the family Lepiotaceae, mostly the genera Leucoagaricus and Leucocoprinus, other fungi are also involved. Some species utilise fungi in the family Tricholomataceae while a few others cultivate yeast. The fungi used by the higher genera no longer produce spores. Their fungi produce nutritious and swollen hyphal tips (gongylidia) that grow in bundles called staphylae, to specifically feed the ants. Finally, colony size varies tremendously among these ants. Lower taxa mostly live in inconspicuous nests with 100–1000 individuals and relatively small fungus gardens. Higher taxa, in contrast, live in colonies made of 5–10 million ants that live and work within hundreds of interconnected fungus-bearing chambers in huge subterranean nests. Some colonies are so large, they can be seen from satellite photos, measuring up to 600 m3.

Based on these habits, and taking phylogenetic information into consideration, these ants can be divided into six biologically distinct agricultural systems (with a list of genera involved in each category):

Nest Construction

A limited number of species that use fungi in the construction of their nests.

Lower Agriculture

Practiced by species in the majority of fungus-feeding genera, including those thought to retain more primitive features, which cultivate a wide range of fungal species in the tribe Leucocoprineae.

Coral Fungus Agriculture

Practiced by species in the Apterostigma pilosum species-group, which cultivate fungi within the Pterulaceae.

Yeast Agriculture

Practiced by species within the Cyphomyrmex rimosus species-group, which cultivate a distinct clade of leucocoprineaceous fungi derived from the lower attine fungi.

Generalized Higher Agriculture

Practiced by species in several genera of non-leaf-cutting "higher attine" ants, which cultivate a distinct clade of leucocoprineaceous fungi separately derived from the lower attine fungi.

Leaf-Cutter Agriculture

A subdivision of higher attine agriculture practiced by species within several ecologically dominant genera, which cultivate a single highly derived species of higher attine fungus.

Note that the farming habits of Mycetagroicus (4 species) are unknown. Also, while species of Pseudoatta (2 species) are closely related to the fungus-feeding genus Acromyrmex, they are social parasites, living in the nests of their hosts and are not actively involved in fungus growing. ‎



Images from AntWeb

Mycetagroicus cerradensis casent0178478 head 1.jpgMycetagroicus cerradensis casent0178478 profile 1.jpgMycetagroicus cerradensis casent0178478 dorsal 1.jpgMycetagroicus cerradensis casent0178478 label 1.jpg
Paratype of Mycetagroicus cerradensisWorker. Specimen code casent0178478. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by MZSP, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Images from AntWeb

Mycetagroicus cerradensis casent0103121 head 1.jpgMycetagroicus cerradensis casent0103121 profile 1.jpgMycetagroicus cerradensis casent0103121 dorsal 1.jpgMycetagroicus cerradensis casent0103121 label 1.jpg
Worker. Specimen code casent0103121. Photographer April Nobile, uploaded by California Academy of Sciences. Owned by USNM, Washington, DC, USA.



Mycetagroicus inflatus

Mycetagroicus cerradensis

Mycetagroicus triangularis

Based on Micolino et al., 2020 (note Mycetagroicus urbanus not included).


The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.

  • cerradensis. Mycetagroicus cerradensis Brandão & Mayhé-Nunes, 2001: 644, figs. 1-7 (w.) BRAZIL.

Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.



Brandão and Mayhé-Nunes. 2001. Figure 5.
Brandão and Mayhé-Nunes. 2001. Figure 4.
Brandão and Mayhé-Nunes. 2001. Figure 7.

TL 3.36; HL 0.92: HW 0.92; IFW 0.52; ScL 0.78; TrL 1.34; Hfl 1.23. Uniformly brown-yellowish to medium brown: gaster darker than the rest of the body in the two Minas Gerais samples; the Paraopeba workers have also the frontal disk of the head darker than the rest of the body. Long and dense pilosity all over the body, hairs mostly erect, but flexuous, little shorter on the appendages than in other regions of the body.

Head. Dorsal surface of the mandibles with some 30 rugulae over a straight line perpendicular to the external margin at midlength, ending abruptly at the smooth flange parallel to the masticatory margin. Masticatory margin with an apical tooth followed by 7-10 minute regularly spaced teeth, except for the basal one which is separated from the others by a small diastema; the subapical teeth of similar size and triangular in young workers; external margin almost straight at base, weakly concave at apex, curving inwards at the level of the third subapical tooth. Clypeus with pronounced concave anterolateral projections with rounded apex, at each side, arising near the base of the frontal lobes. Frontal area triangular, depressed but mostly Inconspicuous. Frontal lobes subtriangular. the anterior border rounded, crenulated, and almost as long as the straight posterior borders: faces meeting in an attenuated angle of circa 120°. Frontal carinae sinuous, weakly diverging caudad, fading before reaching the occiput. Eyes with 12 facets across its greatest diameter. Antennal scapes surpassing the occipital corners by near one third of their length, when laid back over the head as much as possible. All funicular segments longer than broad.

Alitrunk. Lateral pranatal spines triangular when seen from above. projecting laterad when seen in frontal view. Pair of median projections on pronotum very short or absent; middle of the mesonotum with a low protuberance, better seen in side view, microscopically tuberculated. Anepisternum separated from katepisternum by a strong ridge. Metanotal groove relatively large in side view, shallowly impressed. Propodeal spiracle opening slit-shaped in side view.

Petiole, postpetiole, and gaster. Petiole without conspicuous projections: the node proper as seem from above slightly longer than broad, and broader anteriorly. Postpetiole slightly broader than long in dorsal view. Gaster with regularly spaced hair pits, almost in straight parallel lines. The dorsal disk of the gaster marked by two faint widely spaced longitudinal keels.

Type Material

Holotype: Worker, BRAZIL. sao Paulo State: Rancharla (22° 15' S, 50° 55' W). 5.x.1969, E. Amante (Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo # 6004 Kempfs notebook), deposited at MZSP. Paratypes (all from Brazil); 41 workers. same data as holotype (38 MZSP - one prepared for SEM: 3 National Museum of Natural History; 3 Centro de Pesquisas do Cacau); 4 workers, Distrito Federal: Brasilia (15° 47’ S, 47° 55' W), parque Nacional de Brasilia, 13-14.v.1971, “cerrado.” W. L. & D. E. Brown (col.) (2 MZSP: 2 Museum of Comparative Zoology): 33 workers, Golas: Faz. Cachoeirlnha, Jatal (17° 53' S, 51° 43' W), 20.vii.1964, Exp. Dep. Zool col. (MZSP # KL 4264) (20 MZSP; 3 California Academy of Sciences; 4 Instituto de Biologia Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro; 3 Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History; 3 USNM}: 3 workers, Mato Grosso (today Mato Grosso do Sul): Fazenda Fortaleza, Paranaiba (19° 40' S, 51° 11' W), 19.ii.1976. J. L. M. Diniz (Diniz's field book # 951) (MZSP): 3 workers, Minas Gerais: Paraopeba (19° 18' S, 44° 25' W), iii.1990, J. A. Barcelos (leg.) (2 MZSP; 1 CECL): 2 workers, Minas Gerais: Lassance (17° 54' S. 44° 34' W), 18.ix.1985, P. Pacheco col. (MZSP): 5 workers, Parana: Senges (21° 59' S, 48°23' W). 03.xi.1965, W. Kempf leg, (MZSP# 4154) (3 MZSP: 2 CECL); 19 workers, Sao Paulo: Fazenda Itaquere, Boa Esperanca do Sul (21° 59' S, 48° 23' W), 20.vii.1964, K. Lenko leg. (MZSP # 4472, Lenko notebook) (10 MZSP- one prepared for SEM: 3 CECL; 3 INPA; 3 The Natural History Museum): 6 workers, Sao Paulo: Agudos (22° 28' S, 49° 00' W), 13.xii.1955. W. Kempf leg. (MZSP # 1492: “Parque do Seminario” Kempf’s notebook) (4 MZSP; 2 CECL): 2 workers, Sao Paulo: Botucatu (22° 52' S. 48° 26' W), 11.iv.1985; 11.x.1984, M. F. Barros Pereira col (MZSP).


The name refers to the distribution of this species, known only from the Brazilian “cerrados,” a savanna-like formation that once covered most of the Brazilian Central Plateau.


References based on Global Ant Biodiversity Informatics

  • Brandão C. R. F., and A. J. Mayhé-Nunes. 2001. A new fungus-growing ant genus, Mycetoagroicus gen. n., with the description of three new species and comments on the monophyly of the Attini (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 38: 639-665.
  • Brandão, C.R.F. and Mayhe-Nunes. 2008. Uma nova espécie de formiga cultivadora de fungo, do gênero Mycetagroicus Brandão & Mayhé-Nunes (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Attini). Revista Brasileira de Entomologia 52(3)
  • Klingenberg, C. and C.R.F. Brandao. 2005. The type specimens of fungus growing ants, Attini (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Myrmicinae) deposited in the Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil. Papeis Avulsos de Zoologia 45(4):41-50
  • Ramos L. S., R. Z. B. Filho, J. H. C. Delabie, S. Lacau, M. F. S. dos Santos, I. C. do Nascimento, and C. G. S. Marinho. 2003. Ant communities (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the leaf-litter in cerrado “stricto sensu” areas in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Lundiana 4(2): 95-102.
  • Solomon S. E., C. Rabeling, J. Sosa-Calvo, C. Lopes, A. Rodrigues, H. L. Vasconcelos, M. Bacci, U. G. Mueller, and T. R. Schultz. 2019. The molecular phylogenetics of Trachymyrmex Forel ants and their fungal cultivars provide insights into the origin and coevolutionary history of ‘higher-attine’ ant agriculture. Systematic Entomology 44: 939–956.
  • Solomon S., C. T. Lopes, U. G. Mueller, A. Rodrigues, J. Soza-Calvo, T. R. Schultz, and H. L. Vasconcelos. 2011 . Nesting biology and fungiculture of the fungus-growing ant Mycetagroicus cerradensis: New light on the origin of higher-attine agriculture. Journal of Insect Science 11: 11:12.
  • Vasconcelos H. L., B. B. Araujo, A. J. Mayhé-Nunes. 2008. Patterns of diversity and abundance of fungus-growing ants (Formicidae: Attini) in areas of the Brazilian Cerrado. Revista Brasileira de Zoologia 25(3): 445-450.