Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Crab spiders: When Enemies Come to Help

10.04.2018

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Now UZH researchers now show that this principle also holds for crab spiders and flowering plants. While it’s true that the spiders do eat or drive away useful pollinators such as bees, they’re also attracted by floral scent signals to come and help if the plant is attacked by insects intent on eating it.

Interactions between organisms such as plants and animals can be found everywhere in nature. Anina Knauer and Florian Schiestl, a professor at UZH’s Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, has taken a closer look at one such instance: the interaction between crab spiders and the buckler-mustard, a yellow flowering plant common in Europe.


By eating larvae, crab spiders help the flowering plants.

Anina C. Knauer


Crab spiders sitting on the flowers keep away bees and also plant-eating insects from visiting the plants.

Anina C. Knauer

The harmful side of crab spiders

Crab spiders are predators that lie in wait for their prey on the flowers. It used to be assumed that these spiders harm the plant, because they catch pollinating insects or discourage them from visiting the flowers. The ecologists at UZH have now been able to reveal a surprising phenomenon: “Crab spiders find the plant by following the scent of its flowers. They do so using β-ocimene, the floral volatile that also attracts bees,” says Schiestl.

Floral volatile serves as a cry for help

Indeed if crab spiders are sitting on the flowers, fewer bees will visit because they’re discouraged by the spiders. But the spiders don’t just eat pollinators. They also eliminate plant-eating insects and their larvae that feed on the flowers or fruit and damage the plant. This way the crab spiders benefit the plant, bearing out the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Apparently the benefit is so great that when attacked by florivores, the plants give off larger amounts of the floral volatile that attracts the spiders. This “cry for help” actually works: in response to it the spiders are increasingly likely to visit the flowers that are being attacked, where they find rich pickings.

Understanding interactions to protect ecosystems

The study shows that the effect of interacting organisms is highly dependent on the ecological context. But in complex ecosystems the consequences can’t always be predicted. This means that the disappearance of existing interacting partners or the appearance of new ones can have unforeseeable implications for individual members of an ecosystem. “For this reason it’s important to better understand the interactions between organisms and their consequences to be able to apply the insights in the protection of ecosystems or organic farming,” concludes Florian Schiestl.

Literature:
Anina C. Knauer, Moe Bakhtiari and Florian P. Schiestl. Crab spiders impact floral-signal evolution indirectly through removal of florivores. Nature Communications. April 10,2018. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03792-x

Contact:
Prof. Florian Schiestl, PhD
Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany
University of Zurich
Phone: +41 44 634 84 09
E-mail: florian.schiestl@systbot.uzh.ch

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.media.uzh.ch/en/Press-Releases/2018/crab-spiders-help-flowering-plant...

Kurt Bodenmüller | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Storage & Transport of highly volatile Gases made safer & cheaper by the use of “Kinetic Trapping"

Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles

Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...

Im Focus: Disrupting crystalline order to restore superfluidity

When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.

We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...

Im Focus: Micro energy harvesters for the Internet of Things

Fraunhofer IWS Dresden scientists print electronic layers with polymer ink

Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...

Im Focus: Dynamik einzelner Proteine

Neue Messmethode erlaubt es Forschenden, die Bewegung von Molekülen lange und genau zu verfolgen

Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...

Im Focus: Dynamics of individual proteins

New measurement method allows researchers to precisely follow the movement of individual molecules over long periods of time

The function of proteins – the molecular tools of the cell – is governed by the interplay of their structure and dynamics. Advances in electron microscopy have...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

5th International Conference on Cellular Materials (CellMAT), Scientific Programme online

02.10.2018 | Event News

Major Project: The New Silk Road

01.10.2018 | Event News

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physics: Not everything is where it seems to be

15.10.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Microfluidic molecular exchanger helps control therapeutic cell manufacturing

15.10.2018 | Life Sciences

Link between Gut Flora and Multiple Sclerosis Discovered

15.10.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>