Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Ant Pollination Changes the Sugar Composition of Floral Nectar

Pollination through ants is called Mirmicophilly. Though several studies indicates that ants are ineffictive pollinators. A recent studies by Vega and Herrera have revealed that ant pollination indirectly changes the sugar composition of the floral nectar. This potential relevance can be an interesting topic for future research.
    Upto early eighties only few examples of ant pollination were reported. Many scientists assume that ants are ineffective pollinators for which several reasons have been given. One of which is that, ants produces antibiotic secretions that reduces pollen viability and germination percentage. However gradually more plants have been reported where ants are essential for the pollination of which some of them are  pollination in Cytinus hypocistis by Vega et.al. Chamichis alpina by Schiestl & Glaser. Ecological and other importance of ant pollination have also been studied.
Photo Courtesy : http://www.fs.fed.us
    Vega and Herrera in the recent issue (April 2013, Vol. 100-4) of American Journal of Botany have reported that ants carries certain microorganisms (yeasts in their case), and they can alter nectar composition. Therefore, ants could indirectly change nectar sugar profile, an important floral feature involved in the plant–pollinator mutualism. 
    They found that the nectar of ant-visited flowers contained significantly more fructose, more glucose, and less sucrose than the nectar of ant-excluded flowers. Further change in sugar content were corelated with the density of yeast cells in nectar. The magnitude of the effects of ant-transported ascomycetes was much higher than that of basiodiomycetes. 
    They concluded that ants and their associated yeasts induce changes in nectar sugar traits, reducing the chemical control of the plant over this important floral trait. Vega and Herrera forsee these findings a rich topic for future research into the ecology of ant–flower interactions.

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