I love ant. Part 1.

Thanks to numerous lectures by a visiting professor, I’ve learned quite a bit about myrmecophily: the beneficial associations between ants and other organisms such as plants, arthropods, or fungi.  These I gladly share with you over the next few posts.

Ants and Plants: The Bullhorn Acacia
The bullhorn acacia, Acacia cornigera, is commonly found in association with Pseudomyrmex ant species.  In exchange for defense, the Acacia provides shelter for ants (domatia), carbohydrate rich nectar (extrafloral nectar), and lipid-protein packets (food/Beltian bodies).  The ants protect the tree against herbivory by other arthropods or even mammals.  There is evidence that the Acacia tightly monitor their relationship with mutualistic ants.  One way is by pre-digesting sugar for ants that lack such digestive enzymes.  Evolutionarily cool.

Image courtesy of Alex Wild

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: