Saturday, April 21, 2012

Woodrush Seed Dispersed by Ants

Field Woodrush, Luzula campestris
Seed dispersal in plants is very important for avoiding sibling competition, reducing seed/seedling mortality by predators or pathogens and colonisation of new sites (1). As a low growing, often hidden grass, the Field Woodrush (Luzula campestris) lacks the height to disperse its seed successfully over a large distance. So it ingeniously employs the services of ants to aid it, a relationship known as myrmecochory. The seeds are covered with an eliasome, an external appendage that is rich in lipids, amino acid, or other nutrients. Ants collect the seeds, transfer them to their colony and feed the eliasomes to their larvae (2). While this succeeds in decreasing competition and aids in the colonising of new sites it also provides the perfect environment for developing seedlings. Ant nests are significantly richer in some essential plant macronutrients than their surrounding environments, such as phosphate, potassium and nitrate (2).

  1. Traveset and Rodríguez-Pérez, 2008. Encyclopedia of Ecology pp. 3188-3194
  2. Oostermeijer, 1989. Oecologia 78 pp. 302-311

No comments:

Post a Comment