This Tree Enslaves Ants

Pic: Kurt Stuber (CC)

Pic: Kurt Stuber (CC)

Poor little junkie ants. The first taste is free, then you gotta pay.

Via Neatorama:

The Central American acacia tree and the ant Pseudomyrmex ferrugineus live in a symbiotic relationship. The tree provides sweet nectar for the ants, and the ants protect the tree from weeds and animals. But we now know that the relationship is rather one-sided, as the tree not only causes the ants to become addicted to its nectar, but also damages the ants to make them unable to digest any other food! Martin Heil of Cinvestav Unidad Irapuato in Mexico studied the ants, and found that they are born with the ability to digest a variety of sugars, but then lose their invertase, an enzyme that breaks down sugars.

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  • Rhoid Rager

    Well, hmph. I never woulda pegged Goldman Sachs as a student of biomimicry.

    • Calypso_1

      worked for the pharaohs

      • Rhoid Rager

        you think the pyramids were built by ant-like slaves?

        • Calypso_1

          Giant ants. Ants from space, who came for our women.

          • Rhoid Rager

            Bioliteralism?

            That still doesn’t explain the weathering on the Sphinx. We all know ants doesn’t like rain. ;)

          • jnana

            then god cursed them for being communists, shrinking them to their modern size

  • Jonas Planck

    Spoilers for the novel Amazon… The Tree did it!

  • InfvoCuernos

    Acacias seem to be big on the symbiotic thing. I have also heard of a type of grub that lives in the roots of the mesquite bush of the southwest. I wonder if they are addicts too.

    • rachel

      African acacias kill antelopes if they over-feed on a single tree. The tree that’s under attack emits ethylene as a signal to other acacias over 100 feet away, and the acacias increase their production of poisonous tannins.

      The Southeast Asian Acacia confusa has certainly presented a symbiotic relationship to me:)

  • tibby trillz

    alot of species of acacia contain dmt

    • Saint Eli

      Yes indeed yellow acacia from Hawaii.. Tried that out once. Once.