Navigation Links
How ants tame the wilderness: Rainforest species use chemicals to identify which plants to prune
Date:5/11/2011

Survival in the depths of the tropical rainforest not only depends on a species' ability to defend itself, but can be reliant on the type of cooperation researchers discovered between ants and tropical trees. The research, published in Biotropica, reveals how the ants use chemical signals on their host tree to distinguish them from competing plant species. Once a competing plant is recognised the ants prune them to defend their host.

The species of plant inhabiting ant Pseudomyrmex triplarinus are found in the Peruvian rainforest and as researchers from Colorado State University found out, they have evolved a symbiotic relationship with Triplaris americana trees, receiving shelter and sustenance in return for defence.

"The ants inhabit hollow channels inside the tree and aggressively fight off any invaders including other plants, yet how these ants recognise their host tree compared to other plants has not been studied," said lead author Dr Tiffany Weir. "We found that the ants distinguish between their host trees and encroaching species through recognition of the plant's surface waxes."

From the Tambopata National Reserve in Peru Dr Weir, and Dr. Jorge Vivanco, the team's leader, used a creative set of experiments to demonstrate how ants inhabiting the branches of T. americana trees recognise species-specific chemical signals embedded in the leaf surface.

Species of grass and fern were harvested from the area and replanted around several T. Americana trees which hosted ants. The team then monitored ant pruning behaviour of these competing species for five weeks.

Detached leaves from several trees, including T. americana, were then attached to host trees with a sewing pin. Daily records revealed that more leaves belonging to non-host plants were removed by the ants.

A similar experiment looked at removal of filter papers coated with surface waxes that had been extracted from host tree leaves compared with papers coated with waxes from a closely related species, T. poeppigiana. The ants more aggressively attacked papers coated with the T. poeppigiana extracts demonstrating both the extremely high degree of specificity for their host tree and that the chemical signal allowing them to accurately distinguish their host from other plants is present in leaf surface waxes.

The team also found that even during rainy periods when ant activity was minimal they still defended their host tree if disturbed. This included attacking ants from a neighbouring nest if they ventured too close to the tree.

"Researchers have observed pruning behaviour in ants before, and the explanations for this type of behaviour range from limiting competition to host plants to preventing foliar bridges between the host tree and other plants that would allow invading ant species access to the colony," concluded Weir. "However, this is one of the first studies to examine the specificity and chemical signals involved in this particular ant-plant interaction."


'/>"/>

Contact: Ben Norman
Lifesciencenews@wiley.com
44-012-437-70375
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. First rainforests arose when plants solved plumbing problem
2. Evidence is weak for tropical rainforest 65 million years ago in Africas low-latitudes
3. Pristine rainforests are biogeochemical reactors
4. CCNY biologists study rainforest host-plant associations
5. Plant fossils give first real picture of earliest Neotropical rainforests
6. New collaborative center to provide education, research on temperate rainforests
7. Rainforest rehab in every sense
8. Bolivian rainforest study suggests feeding behavior in monkeys and humans have ancient, shared roots
9. Live-in domestics: Mites as maids in tropical rainforest sweat bee nests
10. Statement by Sandy Andelman, co-author of Drought sensitivity of the Amazon Rainforest
11. Biofuels boom could fuel rainforest destruction, Stanford researcher warns
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
How ants tame the wilderness: Rainforest species use chemicals to identify which plants to prune
(Date:4/26/2016)... , April 27, 2016 ... "Global Multi-modal Biometrics Market 2016-2020"  report to their ... , The analysts forecast the global ... of 15.49% during the period 2016-2020.  ... of sectors such as the healthcare, BFSI, transportation, ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... physicians supporting Medicaid patients in Central Florida ... telehealth thanks to a new partnership with higi.   ... can routinely track key health measurements, such as blood ... they opt in, share them with IMPOWER clinicians through ... location at no cost. By leveraging this data, IMPOWER ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... India , March 22, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... market research report "Electronic Sensors Market for Consumer ... Proximity, & Others), Application (Communication & IT, ... Geography - Global Forecast to 2022", published ... industry is expected to reach USD 26.76 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... , ... Parallel 6 , the leading software as a service (SaaS) ... Virtual Patient Encounter CONSULT module which enables both audio and video telemedicine communication between ... Using the CONSULT module, patients and physicians can schedule a face to face virtual ...
(Date:6/27/2016)...  Liquid Biotech USA , ... Sponsored Research Agreement with The University of Pennsylvania ... cancer patients.  The funding will be used to ... clinical outcomes in cancer patients undergoing a variety ... employed to support the design of a therapeutic, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... DIEGO , June 24, 2016 ... more sensitively detects cancers susceptible to PARP inhibitors ... circulating tumor cells (CTCs). The new test has ... HRD-targeted therapeutics in multiple cancer types. ... targeting DNA damage response pathways, including PARP, ATM, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Mosio, a leader in clinical ... Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with experienced clinical research professionals, Mosio revisits ... tips, tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. , “The landscape of how patients ...
Breaking Biology Technology: