Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Picky ants maintain color polymorphism of bugs they work with





Date: September 7, 2016
Source: Hokkaido University

Aphids are tiny bugs that live in large colonies and suck sap from plants, producing a sugar-rich substance called honeydew, which is then eaten by ants. Ants, in turn, protect aphids -- in a mutually beneficial relationship -- from the predators that eat them.

Researchers at Hokkaido University in Japan and colleagues investigated whether this symbiotic relationship played a role in the genetic selection of the red and green aphids that feed on the mugwort plant -- known as Macrosiphoniella yomgicola. The presence of two or more clearly different forms in a species is known as "polymorphism." Previous research had shown that aphid colonies that were more polymorphic tended to survive longer. This could be due to the number of ants attending to these colonies.

The team first experimented by removing ants from aphid colonies and found that most colonies whose attending ants were removed did not survive. This demonstrated that ants were necessary for the survival of the mogwort aphids.

They then experimented with colonies that had varying proportions of red and green aphids and found that the number of attending ants was highest when green aphids comprised 65% of the colony.

No comments:

Post a comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

ShareThis