Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Punishment important in plant-pollinator relationship

Date:
January 18, 2010
Source:
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Summary:
Figs and the wasps that pollinate them present one of biologists' favorite examples of a beneficial relationship between two different species. In exchange for the pollination service provided by the wasp, the fig fruit provides room and board for the wasp's developing young. However, wasps do not always pollinate the fig. Fig trees "punish" these "cheaters" by dropping unpollinated fruit, killing the wasp's offspring inside, report researchers.

Charlotte Jander placed either a wasp carrying pollen or a pollen-free wasp in a bag around a fig fruit.
Credit: Marcos Guerra

Figs and the wasps that pollinate them present one of biologists' favorite examples of a beneficial relationship between two different species. In exchange for the pollination service provided by the wasp, the fig fruit provides room and board for the wasp's developing young. However, wasps do not always pollinate the fig. Fig trees "punish" these "cheaters" by dropping unpollinated fruit, killing the wasp's offspring inside, report researchers working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Related Articles


Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, show that sanctions against cheaters may be critical to maintain the relationship.

"Relationships require give and take. We want to know what forces maintain this 80-million-year-old arrangement between figs and their wasp pollinators." said lead author, Charlotte Jandér, graduate student in Cornell University's Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, who conducted the study as a Smithsonian pre-doctoral fellow. "What prevents the wasps from reaping the benefits of the relationship without paying the costs?"

Some wasp species passively carry pollen that sticks to their bodies. Others actively collect pollen in special pouches. Jandér evaluated the ability of six different fig tree-fig wasp species pairs to regulate cheating. She introduced either a single pollen-free wasp, or a wasp carrying pollen, into a mesh bag containing an unpollinated fig. The wasps entered the figs to lay their eggs. Jandér found that trees often dropped unpollinated figs before young wasps could mature.

"This is really about the all-too-human theme of crime and punishment. We found that in actively pollinated fig species -- when wasps expend time and energy to collect and deposit pollen-- wasps that did not provide the basic service of pollination were sanctioned. However, in passively pollinated species -- when the wasps do not need to make an effort to pollinate--sanctions were absent," said Allen Herre, STRI staff scientist. "Although we still need to clearly understand the costs associated with applying sanctions, it seems like sanctions were only present where needed."

"Sanctions seem to be a necessary force in keeping this, and other, mutually-beneficial relationships on track when being part of a mutualism is costly," said Jandér. "In our study, we saw less cheating when sanctions were stronger. Similar results have been found among human societies and in social insects. It is very appealing to think that the same general principles could help maintain cooperation both within and among species."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. "Punishment important in plant-pollinator relationship." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100114143513.htm>.
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. (2010, January 18). Punishment important in plant-pollinator relationship. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100114143513.htm
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. "Punishment important in plant-pollinator relationship." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100114143513.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins