Navigation Links
Trees retaliate when their fig wasps don't service them
Date:1/27/2010

ITHACA, N.Y. Figs and fig wasps have evolved to help each other out: Fig wasps lay their eggs inside the fruit where the wasp larvae can safely develop, and in return, the wasps pollinate the figs.

But what happens when a wasp lays its eggs but fails to pollinate the fig?

The trees get even by dropping those figs to the ground, killing the baby wasps inside, reports a Cornell University and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B (published online Jan. 13).

The findings suggest that when one species in a mutually beneficial relationship fails to hold up its end of the bargain, sanctions may be a necessary part of maintaining the relationship.

"We want to know what forces maintain this 80 million-year-old mutualism between figs and their wasp pollinators," said lead author Charlotte Jandr, a Cornell graduate student in neurobiology and behavior, who conducted the study as a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute predoctoral fellow. Edward Allen Herre, a staff scientist at the Smithsonian institute in Panama, co-authored the paper.

"What prevents the wasps from cheating and reaping the benefits of the relationship without paying the costs?" Jandr added.

More than 700 species each of fig trees and wasps have co-evolved in the tropics worldwide, with each fig tree species having its own species of pollinating wasp. Jandr worked on six fig tree-fig wasp pairs for the study. Some wasp species passively carry pollen that sticks to their bodies, while others actively collect pollen in special pouches.

The researchers found that in passively pollinated pairings, the tree almost never aborted its fruit, and the wasp always carried pollen. However, the researchers found that in actively pollinated pairings, where the wasp needs to expend energy to collect pollen, the tree dumped the fruit and killed the offspring when the wasps did not carry pollen.

The researchers also found that among the actively pollinated fig species, pollen-free wasps were much more common when the trees had weak sanctions.

"Sanctions seem to be a necessary force in keeping this and other mutually beneficial relationships on track when being part of a mutualism is costly," said Jandr. "In our study, we saw less cheating when sanctions were stronger. Similar results have been found among human societies and social insects. It is very appealing to think that the same general principles could help maintain cooperation both within and among species."


'/>"/>

Contact: Blaine Friedlander
bpf2@cornell.edu
607-254-8093
Cornell University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Canada provides $1.4M for removal of hazardous trees from provincial recreation sites
2. Climate change predicted to drive trees northward
3. Fighting pollution the poplar way: Trees to clean up Indiana site
4. Why juniper trees can live on less water
5. Secrets of cooperation between trees and fungi revealed
6. Ancient oak trees help reduce global warming
7. Vine invasion? UWM ecologist looks at coexistence of trees and lianas
8. Extinction most likely for rare trees in the Amazon rainforest
9. Shade trees can protect coffee crops
10. Diversity of trees in Ecuadors Amazon rainforest defies simple explanation
11. Urban trees enhance water infiltration
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/22/2016)... 22, 2016   Acuant , the ... solutions, has partnered with RightCrowd ® ... Visitor Management, Self-Service Kiosks and Continuous Workforce ... add functional enhancements to existing physical access ... venues with an automated ID verification and ...
(Date:6/20/2016)... 20, 2016 Securus Technologies, a leading ... for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring announced ... it has secured the final acceptance by all ... Managed Access Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, Securus will ... be installed by October, 2016. MAS distinguishes between ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... , June 9, 2016  Perkotek an innovation leader in attendance control systems ... seamlessly log work hours, for employers to make sure the right employees are actually ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160609/377486LOGO ... ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... WA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... announces the release of its second eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention ... recruitment and retention in this eBook by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies ...
(Date:6/23/2016)...   Boston Biomedical , an industry leader ... target cancer stemness pathways, announced that its lead ... Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ... gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer. Napabucasin is an orally ... stemness pathways by targeting STAT3, and is currently ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 A person commits a ... crime scene to track the criminal down. An ... Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track ... Sound far-fetched? It,s not. The FDA has increasingly ... support investigations of foodborne illnesses. Put as simply as possible, ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Charm Sciences, Inc. ... test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is another AOAC-RI ... stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The Peel Plate ...
Breaking Biology Technology: