A team of German, Brazilian and Spanish botanists and entomologists discovered fly larvae that live on probably one of the most dangerous habitats for insects, namely the highly sticky leaves of carnivorous sundew plants. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Hoverflies (also called flower flies), are conspicuous flower visitors of the dipteran family Syrphidae which often mimic the colouration of bees and wasps for protection, however they are totally stingless insects.
The larvae (“maggots”) of most species are known to be beneficial organisms that feed on aphids and related insect pests of plants. However, aphids are relatively rare in the tropics of South America, also known as Neotropics, where a huge number of hoverfly species occur.
Predatory larvae of some hoverfly species there hence became vegetarians, their larvae feeding on pollen or leaves, while larvae of other species prey on small adult flies, or larvae of various other insects. However, barely anything is known about the biology and diet of most known hoverflies species.
The more exciting is the discovery which has now been made in central Brazil, and was published by a team of German, Brazilian and Spanish botanists and entomologists in the journal PLOS ONE. The scientists discovered fly larvae that live on probably one of the most dangerous habitats for insects, namely the highly sticky leaves of carnivorous sundew plants.
Covered by numerous tentacles that secrete a glistening, sticky mucilage, the sundews’ leaves constitute deadly traps for most insects - but where other insects get stuck and become a quick snack of this carnivorous plant, these perfectly adapted larvae can move effortlessly. Moreover, they feed on the insect prey that was caught by the sundews.
The observed larvae spend their entire life on the sticky leaves of the plant as a commensal, feeding from the sundews’ meal. They do this without being digested themselves by the plant, before they finally pupate - attached to the non-sticky and therefore harmless leaf underside of the plant. The adult hoverflies that emerged from the pupae were identified as Toxomerus basalis (both by morphological characters, as well as genetically by DNA sequencing).
Remarkably, although this Brazilian hoverfly species has been known to scientists for 180 years (it was described in 1836), its larvae, feeding habits and biology were hitherto unknown and have now been documented for the first time.
Larvae of this larcenous fly have even been found on several different sundew species and in several states of Brazil, including on the recently discovered “Facebook-sundew” Drosera magnifica. "It could well be that this hoverfly is much more widespread than previously known, or that also other species of the genus Toxomerus show this interesting behavior," said Fernando Rivadavia, who discovered the peculiar larvae. This discovery is a sensation in several respects:
"This is the first known case of insect residents on sundews in South America, from where animal inhabitants of carnivorous plants were thus far only known from pitcher plants", says botanist Andreas Fleischmann of the Botanical State Collection of Munich and author of the study. The biology of this unusual symbiosis is now to be further explored.
"Moreover, this so-called kleptoparasitism represents a novel feeding mode for hoverflies, which is ecologically and evolutionarily remarkable," said Ximo Mengual, entomologist and hoverfly specialist from the Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn.
Fleischmann, A., Rivadavia, F., Gonella, P.M., Pérez-Bañón, C., Mengual, X. & Rojo, S. (2016). Where is my food? Brazilian flower fly steals prey from carnivorous sundews in a newly discovered plant-animal interaction. PLOS ONE, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0153900
Dr. Andreas Fleischmann
SNSB, Botanische Staatssammlung München
Menzinger Straße 67, D-80638 Munich
Tel. (+49) 089/17861-240
Dr. Eva-Maria Natzer | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
North and South Cooperation to Combat Tuberculosis
22.03.2018 | Universität Zürich
Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein
22.03.2018 | Universität Basel
An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.
The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...
In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.
Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.
In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News
22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences
22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences