Qualea grandiflora is a typical tree of the Brazilian cerrado that bears paired extrafloral nectaries (NEFs) along its stems. Plants bearing this NEFs can maintain mutualism with aggressive ants that visit and defend them against herbivores insects. Through field observation we could find larvae of Diptera of the genus Medetera that bild theirs shelter with a stick secretion over the NEF of Q. grandiflora. The presence of this shelter blocks the nectaries and prevent the acess of others organisms, including ants. Besides, ants and others insects visiting the NEF get stuck in the shelter and are eaten by the larvae. Thereby larvae of Medetera can be interfering in the mutualism between ants and plant, potentially acting as a exploiter of this interaction. Within this context, this research project's main objectives are to investigate whether the ant fauna associated with Q. grandiflora is affected by the presence of larvae Medetera, and how this effect changes the protection afforded by ants against herbivores visitors. Another aim is to analyze the chemical composition of the shelter and the secretion produced by the larvae. The study aims to clarify how the presence of one species affects the results of exploratory mutualistic relationship between ants and Q. grandiflora.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship:
LIMA E MOTA, LUISA;
SENDOYA, SEBASTIAN FELIPE;
VIDAL, MAYRA CADORIN.
MITES INHABITING A LEPIDOPTERAN EGG.
JOURNAL OF THE LEPIDOPTERISTS' SOCIETY,
JUN 2 2014.
Web of Science Citations: 0.
(References retrieved automatically from State of São Paulo Research Institutions)