posted on Jul, 30 2013 @ 09:03 AM
Most people think only humans have agriculture, but we know of other species like ants that care for and harvest fungus.
The smallest farmer known is the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum
This little critter eats a certain kind of bacteria. But it not only eats it, but also carries it to new locations as "seed corn". The bacteria is
allowed to flourish, and is then eaten by the humble amoeba.
But this amoeba also carries a weapon, for a "guns and butter" approach. The weapon it carries is another, different bacteria. The second "gun"
bacteria produces an antibiotic and antifungal chemical which does not effect the edible bacteria. It does however protect the edible bacteria by
killing and preventing other organisms from competing with it on the same "farm land".
So, this amoeba moves into a new area, clears the land with toxic bacteria, and plants the edible bacteria now free of competition. It then harvests
and eats the edible bacterial colony. It doesn't eat all the edible bacteria of course, it keeps some for when it moves on to a new location.
Biologists describe this behavior with terms like mutualism and altruism. But I think we should we tip our hats to the micro-farmers. They tamed the
wild-west of that pond you normally ignore.