The plants are bored. They just sit there for photosynthesis, but animals have all the pleasure. To the right? Not so much. Look at the interaction between ants and plants – the plants have evolved properties to make them attractive enzymes, such as the juicy nectar that can be used in eating insects and the hollow thorns so that they can remain. In exchange, plants use ants to spread their seeds and even act as bodyguards. New research National Academy of Sciences works destroying 1700 ants and 10 000 plant genetic genetic history, and researchers found that the long history of the co-existence of antbs and plants began with salted ants that were later reacted with the development of peeling properties.
"My main interest is to investigate how the interactions between organisms have evolved and how does this interaction form its evolutionary history. When the ant began to use plants and when the plants started to build structures for using ants?" says Matt Nelsen, a field museum postdoctoral researcher and lead author PNAS study.
"There are many different structures that produce dentistry-specific plants," explains Nelsen, who led the study with his colleagues in the field museum researchers and co-authors Rick Ree and Corrie Moreau. "Some plants have developed elements that convey ants, protecting them from attacks from other insects and even mammals. They include hollow thorns, in which ants will live in, or additional nectar leaves or stems to eat ants. Take the nectar and run, but some will stay around and attack anything that tries to hurt the plant, "explains Nelsen. Other plants receive ants to help them move their seeds around them, buying them with rich food packages added to the seeds called elaiosomes. "Seeds will take seeds and take it, eat food packaging and throw away seeds – often in a rich nutrition area where it will improve and, since it is further away from parents, they will not have to fight for resources."
But scientists were not sure how the evolutionary relationship between ants and plants began. If evolution is a weapon race between species, creating ways to earn their neighbors, then scientists wanted to know if the plants or ants gave the first shot. "It was a question of chicken and eggs, whether things started with ants that develop behavior to use plants or plant-forming structures to use ants," says Ree, plant curator at a country museum.
The history of mustaches and plants grows together up to the time of dinosaurs, and it's not easy to tell from fossils how these organisms interact. "These crop husbandry structures contain very few fossil recordings and are not very far back in time and there are several tons of fossils, but they usually do not show the manifestations of this behavior – we do not always see preserved amber containing seeds," says Nelsen.
So, in order to detect the interaction between plants on early evolutionary history, Nelsen and his colleagues focused on a large amount of DNA data and ecological databases. "In our study, we linked these behavioral and physical characteristics to ants and plant species to determine when ants began to eat and live on plants, and when the plants developed the ability to create structures used by ants," explains Moreau, field curator of ants.
This team supervised the history of plant-bark-friendly features and the use of ants in these family trees – a process known as the reconstruction of an ancient nation. They were able to determine when the plants began to rely on the protection of ants and the distribution of seeds – and it seems that ants relied on plants longer than plants to rely on ants because the plants did not develop these specialized structures until the ants relied on them for food and habitat.
"Some ants do not directly use plants, but others rely on nutrition, habitat feeding and nesting. We discovered that in order to fully invest in plants, the ants first began to feed arborically, then incorporating the plants into their diet, and then from there, they started nesting arboreally. Although this gradual transition to more reliance on plants is intuitive, it still impresses us, "says Nelsen.
And although, over the years, anthems and plants have mutually beneficial relationships, evolutionary views of groups of vegetable oils, fodder or nesting forts do not seem to be better than those in which they are not. "We do not see part of a family tree that includes plant-dependent ants, so that food or habitat diversification or rearing is faster than those parts of the tree that lack this interaction," says Nelsen. "This study is important because it gives an insight into how this widespread and complex interaction evolved."
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