BBC - Earth - A tale of loyalty and betrayal, starring figs and wasps
But coming across what figs really are ― and the wasp that makes fig, because that's where it lays its larva ― this relationship is known as mutualism. The female fig wasp enters the male fig ― we don't eat the male figs. Here begins the story of the relationship between figs and fig wasps. located in the Lower Jordan Valley, which dates to 11, to 11, Abstract.—The obligate mutualism between pollinating fig wasps in the family Agaonidae the pollinators of functionally dioecious figs are not monophyletic. Dating of the human–ape splitting by a molecular clock of mitochondrial DNA.
The lifecycles of figs and fig wasps are studied as a way of understanding the evolution of mutualism. Fifty years ago, in the late s, when the fig-wasp mutualism began to be elucidated, it was divided into five biologically based developmental phases A, B, C, D and E describing how the ripening fig becomes attractive to female wasps, which enter the inflorescence to lay their eggs, and how a new generation of fertilized female wasps eventually emerges from the fig to renew the cycle.
Half a century after the initial description of this development cycle, Brazilian biologist Luciano Palmieri Rocha has proposed a new phase, which he calls the F phase; this phase encompasses the ecological interactions that occur after the wasps leave, involving the ripe figs that fall and rot on the ground.
The study was published in the journal Acta Oecologica as part of a special volume compiled to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the original discovery of the fig-wasp mutualism. This is why fig-wasp mutualism is so interesting. The two species coexist and mutually adapt to survive.
This mutualism is not confined to the interaction between the species that produces edible figs Ficus carica, the common fig and its specific pollinators, fig wasps of the species Blastophaga psenes. The genus Ficus comprises more than species, and for each, there is a species of pollinating agaonid wasp. The mutualism is ancient, Palmieri explained.NATURE - The Queen of Trees - Wasps Inside the Fig - PBS
The oldest fossils of fig wasps date from 34 million years ago. They closely resembled the species alive today, indicating that the symbiotic relationship evolved early and has not changed fundamentally since then. Molecular evidence shows that the relationship existed 65 million years ago, suggesting that it might be even older, perhaps going back to the age of dinosaurs.
The fig-wasp lifecycle begins when the female wasp enters the fig.
The flowers open inside it, so they need a special pollination process. They cannot rely on wind or bees to carry their pollen. Inside the fig, there are female and male flowers that develop at different times. The A phase occurs when the female flowers are not yet mature. They soon mature and are ready to be fertilized. They become receptive to the wasps and release a scent made up of a huge amount of volatile compounds, triggering the B phase. Each fig receptacle is not entirely closed but has a small hole called an ostiole, through which the female wasp penetrates its interior.
As it does so, it loses its wings and its antennae are broken, so that it cannot get out again. It lays its eggs and dies. Synchronized actions Once inside the fig, the female wasp lays eggs in many of the flowers but not all. At the same time, it fertilizes the flowers with pollen stored in a pouch on the underside of its thorax. The flowers on which the eggs are laid now undergo a transformation to become hardened structures call galls.
Now begins the C phase, which lasts two to three months. The flowers that receive pollen but no eggs develop into seeds. Flowers that receive eggs and harden into galls become nurseries with food and shelter for wasp larvae.
The D phase occurs at the end of larval incubation. This is also when the male flowers start to mature, opening up to expose pollen containers known as anthers. The male penetrates the female with a telescopic penis and fertilizes the female inside the gall.
Once they have mated in this way, the males use their mandibles to bite through the fig wall.
You'll Never Be Able To Unlearn What Figs Are
They then go out through the hole, fall to the ground and die. Leaving the receptacle through the hole made by their brothers, the fertilized females fly away in search of other fig trees, and the cycle begins again. The E phase consists of seed dispersal.
The figs are eaten by monkeys, rodents, bats, peccaries and many other animals.
Almost all forest-dwelling vertebrates feed on figs as part of their diet. F phase Palmieri has now proposed a new phase in addition to the five phases of the classic fig-wasp lifecycle, which has been studied for 50 years. They manage to insert their eggs into figs without performing the biological role of pollination. These figs were discarded and left out of the research.
In some cases, larvae that were almost the same size as the fig had eaten almost its entire contents. It's the result of millions of years of evolution. The fig plant and the fig wasp both have the same goal: For this to happen, a fig plant needs to share its genetic material in the form of pollen with another of its kind, and the fig wasp needs a place where its larva can grow and feed. Think of the fig wasp as a tenant, and the fig plant as a landlord who takes payment in the form of pollen.
What we call a fig a structure called the syconium is more inverted flower than fruit, with all its reproductive parts located inside. After a female fig wasp flies over from the fig plant she emerged from, she must travel to the center of the syconium to lay her eggs.
What Is the Symbiotic Relationship between Fig Wasps & Figs? | Animals - kpss5.info
To get there, she climbs down through a narrow passage called the ostiole. The passage is so cramped that the tiny fig wasp loses her wings and antenna during her claustrophobic trek. Once inside, there's no getting back out and flying to another plant -- but is she in the right place? This content is not compatible on this device.
Fig plants boast two kinds of figs: