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Angelina Rowell research

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Ecological Research. Angelina Rowell, James Cook University, Cairns. Studied the relationships between Myrmecodia beccarii and Philidris ants in North Queensland mangroves. She reported (pers. comm.) that resident ants actually castrate their home plants by cutting up its flowers and transporting resultant pieces to their nests within tubers.

Angelina found more buds and flowers were produced on ant-colonised, thus well-fed plants, so more fruit should develop on them. Yet, there were more fruits on uncolonised specimens, even though their bud and flower numbers were nutritionally constrained through a lack of ant feeding.

Therefore, ants must be removing flowers before pollination, resulting inevitably in lower fruit/seed numbers. Furthermore, Angelina found that ants only removed flowers from their host plant, not from nearby uncolonised plants.

Angelina’s Anova statistical analysis, showed that there was no significant difference between the fruit number on colonised versus uncolonised plants (i. e. fruit production is equal). Therefore, ants are not increasing home plant reproductive output. To belabor a point, trophic benefits that the plants are getting from their ants is not transferred to greater seed production because of flower castration.

There are greater numbers of leaves on colonised plants, which in theory translates to a greater growth rate in the plant tuber and bigger domatia. But this project did not have enough time allocated to measure increase in plant growth. In summary, more buds, flowers and leaves on colonised plants does not result in more fruit and seed production.

 

Angelina also noted on another thread.

"We are looking at the spined form that occurs in the Cairns area. It seems that the majority of the flowers that are left on the plants by the ants develop into fruit. Not 100% sure if it is self pollinating - yet .....The ant interactions with this species is very interesting."

I have tried to find more information on line but have not been successful. 

Attn Dr Guillaume Chomicki. This surely is important to the field of mutualisms.? It is very probable that resident ants are deliberately improving the growth rates of home tubers.

 

 

Photos Angelina Rowell.

ants with flower  010.JPG

ants with flower  010B.JPG

ants with flower  010C.JPG

ants with leaf 01.JPG

ants with leaf 01B.JPG

ants with leaf 02.JPG

ants with leaf 02B.JPG

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