Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Punishment important in plant-pollinator relationship

18.01.2010
Figs and the wasps that pollinate them present one of biologists' favorite examples of a beneficial relationship between two different species.

In exchange for the pollination service provided by the wasp, the fig fruit provides room and board for the wasp's developing young. However, wasps do not always pollinate the fig. Fig trees "punish" these "cheaters" by dropping unpollinated fruit, killing the wasp's offspring inside, report researchers working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, show that sanctions against cheaters may be critical to maintain the relationship.

"Relationships require give and take. We want to know what forces maintain this 80-million-year-old arrangement between figs and their wasp pollinators." said lead author, Charlotte Jandér, graduate student in Cornell University's Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, who conducted the study as a Smithsonian pre-doctoral fellow. "What prevents the wasps from reaping the benefits of the relationship without paying the costs?"

Some wasp species passively carry pollen that sticks to their bodies. Others actively collect pollen in special pouches. Jandér evaluated the ability of six different fig tree-fig wasp species pairs to regulate cheating. She introduced either a single pollen-free wasp, or a wasp carrying pollen, into a mesh bag containing an unpollinated fig. The wasps entered the figs to lay their eggs. Jandér found that trees often dropped unpollinated figs before young wasps could mature.

"This is really about the all-too-human theme of crime and punishment. We found that in actively pollinated fig species—when wasps expend time and energy to collect and deposit pollen-- wasps that did not provide the basic service of pollination were sanctioned. However, in passively pollinated species—when the wasps do not need to make an effort to pollinate--sanctions were absent," said Allen Herre, STRI staff scientist. "Although we still need to clearly understand the costs associated with applying sanctions, it seems like sanctions were only present where needed."

"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 Jandér. "In our study, we saw less cheating when sanctions were stronger. Similar results have been found among human societies and in social insects. It is very appealing to think that the same general principles could help maintain cooperation both within and among species."

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 Molecular Force Sensors
20.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

nachricht Foster tadpoles trigger parental instinct in poison frogs
20.09.2017 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Molecular Force Sensors

20.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Producing electricity during flight

20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>