HOME ABOUT CONTACT AVAILABLE ISSUES SUBSCRIBE MEDIA & ADS CONFERENCE CALENDAR
LATEST UPDATES » Vol 21, No 10, September 2017 – Cardiovascular diseases       » Test strips for cancer detection get upgraded with nanoparticle bling       » Smart nano-pesticide to combat soil and water contamination       » China plans to launch "brain project" by year end       » UNAIDS encourages Chinese to produce drugs for Africa       » Korea-Singapore Healthcare Incubator to support Korean firms in Singapore and Southeast Asia       » Nanomaterial wrap for improved tissue imaging      
BIOBOARD - AUSTRALIA
In defence of the humble ant, champion of biodiversity
You’d be hard pressed to find many people who hold ants in high regard. That might be due to their destructive behavior towards lawns, their ability to infest your house in no time at all, or a willingness to provide you with a nasty formic-acid-filled bite if you inadvertently step on their nest.

But before we write off ants completely, we should give some consideration to the invaluable work they do for biodiversity.

Several studies in recent years show that ants play a key role in seed dispersal for around 11,000 flowering plant species worldwide.

The ants don’t do this hard work purely out of the goodness of their hearts – they do it for a reward. That reward is a nutrient-rich appendage attached to the seed, known as an elaiosome, which the ants feed to their larvae.

The benefits to the plant come when the elaiosome has been removed and the seed is discarded among the fertile waste around the ant nest, which provides perfect growing conditions.

Mutualistic relationships between ants and their flowering plant counterparts appear to have evolved independently more than 100 times, with the elaiosome being an excellent example of convergent evolution – that is, different species evolving similar traits or characteristics independently of each other.

The 2009 study mentioned above – by biologist Szabolcs Lengyel and colleagues – shed light on the significance of this mutualistic relationship in terms of the diversification of flowering plant species (it is estimated there are roughly 300,000 flowering plant species on Earth today).

Seed dispersal is vital to the connectivity of plant populations – the greater the distance a seed can be dispersed, the greater the level of connectedness between populations. But ants only transport seeds over very short distances – up to 200m but usually only over 1-2m.

Therefore, any plant relying on ants to disperse its seed will be limited in its ability to spread out over large distances. This limited dispersal distance will lead to geographically isolated populations – the perfect conditions for diversification and speciation.

Indeed, the 2009 study found that flowering plant groups that were ant-dispersed contained more than twice the number of species than closely related species that did not rely on ants for seed dispersal. By dispersing seeds only over short distances, ants have directly assisted in increasing the global diversity of plants.

So, ants have a significant impact when it comes to the diversification of flowering plants. And, with ants outnumbering humans by roughly 1.4 million to one, we shouldn’t be too hasty in writing them off as a pest.

Without ants, the world would lack a lot of the floral beauty we see around us today.

Matt Christmas

PhD Student in Ecological Genetics at University of Adelaide
Andrew Lowe
Professor of Plant Conservation Biology at University of Adelaide
Source: The Conversation

Click here for the complete issue.

NEWS CRUNCH  
news Medical technology experts to address the impact of innovation in shaping patient outcomes across Asia Pacific
news China biotech's 'coming out party' masks long road ahead
news SingHealth, Duke NUS and GSK to conduct large-scale big data study on asthma and COPD in Singapore
PR NEWSWIRE  
Asia Pacific Biotech News
EDITORS' CHOICE  

Lady Ganga: Nilza'S Story
COLUMNS  
Subscribe to APBN E-Newsletter
Find us under 'Others' option to receive APBN e-newsletters thrice a month!

APBN Editorial Calendar 2017
January:
Healthcare Focus: LUNGS
February:
War on CANCER
March:
Get to Know TCM
April:
Diabetes: The Big Picture
May:
The Piece of Your Mind - Brain Health/Science
June:
Advocacies in Support of Rare Disease Patients
July:
Food Science & Technology
August:
Eye – the Window to your Soul
September:
Infectious Diseases
October:
A change of heart — Cardiovascular diseases
November:
Diseases threatening our Children
December:
Skin Diseases/Allergic Reactions
Editorial calendar is subjected to changes.
MAGAZINE TAGS
About Us
Events
Available issues
Editorial Board
Letters to Editor
Instructions to Authors
Advertise with Us
CONTACT
World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd.
5 Toh Tuck Link, Singapore 596224
Tel: 65-6466-5775
Fax: 65-6467-7667
» For Editorial Enquiries:
   biotech_edit@wspc.com or Ms Lim Guan Yu
» For Subscriptions, Advertisements &
   Media Partnerships Enquiries:
   biotech_ad@wspc.com
Copyright© 2017 World Scientific Publishing Co Pte Ltd  •  Privacy Policy