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Floral volatiles controlling ant behaviour

Willmer, Pat G.; Nuttman, Clive V.; Raine, Nigel E.; Stone, Graham N.; Pattrick, Jonathan G.; Henson, Kate; Stillman, Philip; McIlroy, Lynn; Potts, Simon G. and Knudsen, Jette LU (2009) In Functional Ecology 23(5). p.888-900
Abstract
P>1. Ants show complex interactions with plants, both facultative and mutualistic, ranging from grazers through seed predators and dispersers to herders of some herbivores and guards against others. But ants are rarely pollinators, and their visits to flowers may be detrimental to plant fitness. 2. Plants therefore have various strategies to control ant distributions, and restrict them to foliage rather than flowers. These 'filters' may involve physical barriers on or around flowers, or 'decoys and bribes' sited on the foliage (usually extrafloral nectaries - EFNs). Alternatively, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are used as signals to control ant behaviour, attracting ants to leaves and/or deterring them from functional flowers. Some... (More)
P>1. Ants show complex interactions with plants, both facultative and mutualistic, ranging from grazers through seed predators and dispersers to herders of some herbivores and guards against others. But ants are rarely pollinators, and their visits to flowers may be detrimental to plant fitness. 2. Plants therefore have various strategies to control ant distributions, and restrict them to foliage rather than flowers. These 'filters' may involve physical barriers on or around flowers, or 'decoys and bribes' sited on the foliage (usually extrafloral nectaries - EFNs). Alternatively, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are used as signals to control ant behaviour, attracting ants to leaves and/or deterring them from functional flowers. Some of the past evidence that flowers repel ants by VOCs has been equivocal and we describe the shortcomings of some experimental approaches, which involve behavioural tests in artificial conditions. 3. We review our previous study of myrmecophytic acacias, which used in situ experiments to show that volatiles derived from pollen can specifically and transiently deter ants during dehiscence, the effects being stronger in ant-guarded species and more effective on resident ants, both in African and Neotropical species. In these plants, repellence involves at least some volatiles that are known components of ant alarm pheromones, but are not repellent to beneficial bee visitors. 4. We also present new evidence of ant repellence by VOCs in temperate flowers, which is usually pollen-based and active on common European ants. We use these data to indicate that across a wide range of plants there is an apparent trade-off in ant-controlling filter strategies between the use of defensive floral volatiles and the alternatives of decoying EFNs or physical barriers. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
volatiles, E, ant guards, E-alpha-farnesene, evolutionary filters, extrafloral, floral repellence, nectar, pollen, morphological floral barriers
in
Functional Ecology
volume
23
issue
5
pages
888 - 900
publisher
Wiley-Blackwell
external identifiers
  • wos:000269976800006
  • scopus:70349342709
ISSN
1365-2435
DOI
10.1111/j.1365-2435.2009.01632.x
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a4e49e29-fd4a-4ed7-9ac7-cd1c18d82f13 (old id 1490719)
date added to LUP
2009-10-19 12:20:24
date last changed
2017-11-19 03:39:30
@article{a4e49e29-fd4a-4ed7-9ac7-cd1c18d82f13,
  abstract     = {P>1. Ants show complex interactions with plants, both facultative and mutualistic, ranging from grazers through seed predators and dispersers to herders of some herbivores and guards against others. But ants are rarely pollinators, and their visits to flowers may be detrimental to plant fitness. 2. Plants therefore have various strategies to control ant distributions, and restrict them to foliage rather than flowers. These 'filters' may involve physical barriers on or around flowers, or 'decoys and bribes' sited on the foliage (usually extrafloral nectaries - EFNs). Alternatively, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are used as signals to control ant behaviour, attracting ants to leaves and/or deterring them from functional flowers. Some of the past evidence that flowers repel ants by VOCs has been equivocal and we describe the shortcomings of some experimental approaches, which involve behavioural tests in artificial conditions. 3. We review our previous study of myrmecophytic acacias, which used in situ experiments to show that volatiles derived from pollen can specifically and transiently deter ants during dehiscence, the effects being stronger in ant-guarded species and more effective on resident ants, both in African and Neotropical species. In these plants, repellence involves at least some volatiles that are known components of ant alarm pheromones, but are not repellent to beneficial bee visitors. 4. We also present new evidence of ant repellence by VOCs in temperate flowers, which is usually pollen-based and active on common European ants. We use these data to indicate that across a wide range of plants there is an apparent trade-off in ant-controlling filter strategies between the use of defensive floral volatiles and the alternatives of decoying EFNs or physical barriers.},
  author       = {Willmer, Pat G. and Nuttman, Clive V. and Raine, Nigel E. and Stone, Graham N. and Pattrick, Jonathan G. and Henson, Kate and Stillman, Philip and McIlroy, Lynn and Potts, Simon G. and Knudsen, Jette},
  issn         = {1365-2435},
  keyword      = {volatiles,E,ant guards,E-alpha-farnesene,evolutionary filters,extrafloral,floral repellence,nectar,pollen,morphological floral barriers},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {5},
  pages        = {888--900},
  publisher    = {Wiley-Blackwell},
  series       = {Functional Ecology},
  title        = {Floral volatiles controlling ant behaviour},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2435.2009.01632.x},
  volume       = {23},
  year         = {2009},
}