Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Live-in domestics: Mites as maids in tropical rainforest sweat bee nests

22.04.2009
Mites not only inhabit the dust bunnies under the bed, they also occupy the nests of tropical sweat bees where they keep fungi in check.

Bees and their young are healthier when mites live-in, report researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and the University of Texas at Austin.

Mutually beneficial cleaning relationships have been documented for shrimps and fish that eat parasites on larger fish, but this is the first confirmation of a cleaning relationship between two different species on land.

Tropical sweat bees in the genus Megalopta tunnel into rotten wood, excavating cells for their young that they feed with nectar and pollen. Researchers working at field sites throughout Panama noticed that sweat-bee nests sometimes housed mites and that more young bees died in nests that did not contain mites than in nests that did.

"The mutualistic nature of bee-mite symbioses was hypothesized repeatedly but had never been demonstrated empirically," said Natalia Biani, short-term fellow in Staff Scientist William Wcislo's lab at STRI and graduate student in professor Ulrich Mueller's lab at the University of Texas, Austin.

Biani placed the contents of the brood cells in water and plated the liquid on Petri dishes in order to count the number of fungal colonies from nests with and without mites. "When we took away the mites, the bee nests got dirtier. When we added mites, fungus counts went down. It is pretty clear that the mites clean up the cells where the young are growing," Biani said. In return, the mites receive a clean, dry home, fungus to eat and free bee rides to new nests.

This work appears online in the journal American Naturalist.
STRI, headquartered in Panama City, Panama, is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems.

Beth King | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.si.edu
http://www.stri.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht 'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells
20.02.2018 | Biophysical Society

nachricht New printing technique uses cells and molecules to recreate biological structures
20.02.2018 | Queen Mary University of London

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells

20.02.2018 | Life Sciences

MRI technique differentiates benign breast lesions from malignancies

20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering

Major discovery in controlling quantum states of single atoms

20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>