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Encyclopedia of Social Insects

Living Edition
| Editors: Christopher K. Starr

Ant-Plants: Epiphytic Rubiaceae

  • Guillaume ChomickiEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90306-4_10-1

Synonyms

Introduction

The Hydnophytinae (Rubiaceae, Psychotriae) is the largest group of ant-plants, with approximately 117 almost exclusively epiphytic species distributed through Southeast Asia to Vanuatu and Fiji [3, 8]. The Hydnophytinae comprise five genera: Hydnophytum, Myrmecodia, Anthorrhiza, Myrmephytum, and Squamellaria [1, 3, 8].

All species form a tuber that consists in a modified hypocotyl and a network of self-formed galleries connected to the outside via entrance holes. The Hydnophytinae show stark variations in their symbioses with ants. Some 45 species form generalist and facultative symbioses with almost any arboreal ant species [ 2, 3] (Fig. 1a). This includes the majority of Hydnophytum species, as well as a few species of Myrmephytum and Anthorrhiza [ 3]. In these symbioses, the plants get ant-derived nutrients but no anti-herbivore defense from their ant occupants, while the ants are...
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References

  1. 1.
    Chomicki, G., & Renner, S. S. (2016). Evolutionary relationships and biogeography of the ant-epiphytic genus Squamellaria (Rubiaceae: Psychotrieae) and their taxonomic implications. PLoS One, 11, e0151317.
  2. 2.
    Chomicki, G., & Renner, S. S. (2016). Obligate plant farming by a specialized ant. Nature Plants, 2, 16181.
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    Chomicki, G., & Renner, S. S. (2017). Partner abundance controls mutualism stability and the pace of morphological change over geologic time. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 114, 3951–3956.
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    Chomicki, G., Janda, M., & Renner, S. S. (2017). The assembly of ant-farmed gardens: Mutualism specialization following host broadening. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 284, 20161759.
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    Chomicki, G., Staedler, Y. M., Schönenberger, J., & Renner, S. S. (2016). Partner choice through concealed floral sugar rewards evolved with the specialization of ant–plant mutualisms. New Phytologist, 211, 1358–1370.
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    Davidson, D. W., & Epstein, W. W. (1989). Epiphytic associations with ants. In U. Lüttge (Ed.), Vascular plants as epiphytes (pp. 200–233). Berlin/Heidelberg: Springer.
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    Huxley, C. R. (1978). The ant-plants Myrmecodia and Hydnophytum (Rubiaceae), and the relationships between their morphology, ant occupants, physiology and ecology. New Phytologist, 80, 231–268.
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    Huxley, C. R., & Jebb, M. H. P. (1991). The tuberous epiphytes of the Rubiaceae 1. A new subtribe: The Hydnophytinae. Blumea, 36, 1–20.
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    Maeyama, T., & Matsumoto, T. (2000). Colonial system of Philidris ants (Formicidae; Dolichoderinae) occupying epiphytic myrmecophytes in a tropical mangrove forest. Tropical Ecology, 41, 209–216.
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    Mueller, U. G., Gerardo, N. M., Aanen, D. K., Six, D. L., & Schultz, T. R. (2005). The evolution of agriculture in insects. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution & Systematics, 36, 563–595.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Department of BioscienceDurham UniversityDurhamUK