Ant acacia tree relationship

Relationship provides nutrients, housing, protection : Bullhorn Wattle - AskNature

ant acacia tree relationship

An enzyme in the nectar of acacia trees makes ants chemically dependent on their sugar. The report illustrates how evolution keeps cooperative relationships In , Heil showed that all of the workers of the acacia ant. The relationship between acacia and ants is an example of mutualism. The following ScienceStruck article discusses the acacia-ant connection in detail. The acacia ant (Pseudomyrmex ferruginea) is a species of ant of the genus Pseudomyrmex. P. ferruginea is an obligate plant ant that occupies at least five species of acacia (A. chiapensis, A. collinsii, A. cornigera, The symbiotic relationship begins when a newly mated queen gets attracted by the odour from the tree and.

A member of the bean family, they are also related to locust trees and the tamarind tree.

ant acacia tree relationship

The bacteria obtain nitrogen from the air and convert it into an organic form which is shared with the tree. The tree uses the nitrogen to make amino acids and thus proteins.

Ants protect acacia plants against pathogens | Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

Presence of the bacteria allow the Acacia to grow better on soils with little nitrogen. Worldwide, Acacia trees are a source of the material known as gum arabic, which is a thickener used in the production of many processed foods such as candies and ice creams. Acacias also bear formidable thorns to deter mammalian predators. Despite the thorns, herbivores such as giraffes feed routinely on acacias; in fact when giraffes were first brought to The Wilds in the 's I was struck by how quickly they began browsing on the locust trees locusts being a thorn-bearing Acacia relative.

One of the more interesting aspects of the Acacia tree is its tendency to form symbiotic, mutualistic relationships with ants. This happens in both the Americas and in Africa and perhaps in other areas as well.

Relationship Between Acacia Tree and Ants

In Costa Rica, the association is usually with ants of the genus Pseudomyrmex. The Ants and the Symbiosis Left: The Acacia tree provides the ants with sugars, protein and a nesting site.

ant acacia tree relationship

You can see two of those benefits in this picture. The enlarged thorns are hollow - the ants need only chew an entrance hole to gain access to the hollow inside of the thorn, which they can then raise their young in.

ant acacia tree relationship

A colony of ants on a tree may occupy many such thorns. The swollen thorns provide housing for the guard ants. Photo courtesy of wikimedia. Every month we showcase a relationship between two or more species or groups of species that can be considered a mutualism: Acacia are a genus of shrubs and trees which characteristically have thorns the name is derived from the Greek work akis which translates to thorn.

Several species of Acacia host ant species which provide the trees with several beneficial services. One example of the ant-Acacia mutualism takes place in the African savanna.

Ants protect acacia plants against pathogens

Within these savannas, elephants inflict extensive damage to woody plants. Trees have evolved multiple defenses to this catastrophic herbivory the whole tree can be consumed. Acacia trees employ both chemical deterrents to reduce palatability as well as spines to deter elephants from grazing on them. Despite such defenses, trees frequently suffer severe damage, resulting in the death of mature trees!

ant acacia tree relationship

One species of Acacia, namely the whistling-thorn A. When 2 different species of organisms exist in a relationship, in which they derive benefits from each other; such a relationship is called mutualism. How do the Ants Benefit Every living organism has 2 essentials: Food Shelter The acacia tree provides both the essentials to the ants.

Acacia Ants - Marietta College

Consider the following points, for a better understanding: Shelter The species of acacia mentioned above have big thorns, and they form the perfect dwelling place for ants. The ants hollow out the thorns and thrive in them. Such a shelter is also called domatia. As they live in the thorns, the ants are protected from difficult climatic conditions.

Food The acacia gives the necessary nourishment to the ants which live on it, as it provides them with: Beltian Bodies The Beltian bodies are red in color, and are found on the tips of the leaflets of acacia. The Beltian bodies are a great source of nutrients as they are rich in: Proteins Lipids It is believed that the Beltian bodies were developed as a result of the relationship between the ants and the acacia tree, which implies that the tree produces the nutrient-rich bodies only to feed the ants.

Nectar Nectaries are found towards the base of the petioles of the acacia tree.