Fig wasp tree relationship web

What Is the Symbiotic Relationship between Fig Wasps & Figs? | Animals -

fig wasp tree relationship web

Just as the fig wasp depends on the fig tree to complete its life cycle, the fig tree is counting on the wasp. Like most new wasps. This is an example of a special relationship that biologists call an “obligate mutualism. Figs in Food Webs. These fig wasps are the sole pollinators of fig trees and in turn, fig wasps can breed nowhere else but inside figs, a relationship that is a classic example of an . Fig wasps are wasps of the superfamily Chalcidoidea which spend their larval stage inside figs. Most are pollinators but others simply feed off the plant.

The five phases of the cycle 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.

fig wasp tree relationship web

The lifecycles of figs and fig wasps are studied as a way of understanding the evolution of mutualism. Coelho 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.

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 undergo a transformation to become hardened structures called galls, becoming 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.

Fig Wasps | Ask A Biologist

The first wasps to emerge from the galls are wingless males with reduced eyes but large strong mandibles," Palmieri said. 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.

fig wasp tree relationship web

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 through the feces scattered by the vertebrates that feeds from figs. The proposed F phase Evidence of the new F phase began to appear over the course of years of observation. 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.

fig wasp tree relationship web

That's when we decided to investigate what was going on," Palmieri said. In the article just published, I describe insects belonging to five orders and 24 different families that are not fig wasps but that also interact with figs, performing different functions.

New phase proposed in the relationship between figs and wasps

These insects may colonize figs during different phases of the tree's lifecycle. Some rely on fallen figs to complete their development. Palmieri divided the insects into two categories according to their role in the fig tree's ecology and their potential impact on its reproduction. He called the categories "early fig interlopers" and "fallen fig fauna. The fly larvae migrate to the interior of the fig and feed exclusively on yeast and bacteria brought inside by the pollinating wasp.

It's the result of millions of years of evolution.

Are figs really full of baby wasps?

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.

fig wasp tree relationship web

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. 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: