Ants as seed dispersers – part I

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Aphaenogaster workers tasting the elaiosome of a bloodroot seed. Illinois.
Aphaenogaster workers tasting the elaiosome of a bloodroot seed. Illinois.

Some plants have come to rely so heavily on ants to spread their seeds about that they offer the insects a tasty treat in exchange for the dispersal service.  Seeds of these species bear a lipid-filled structure called an elaiosome, whose sole function appears to be the attraction of ants.  A recent study suggests that plant lineages dependent on ants in this way speciate more rapidly than related ant-free lineages.

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photo details (both photos): Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D
ISO 100, 1/160 sec, f13, indirect strobe in a white box

6 thoughts on “Ants as seed dispersers – part I”

  1. Pingback: Ants as seed dispersers – part 2 « Myrmecos Blog

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