BBC - Earth - A tale of loyalty and betrayal, starring figs and wasps
Dr Marie Warren introducing adult wasps onto the figs inside the bags. This relationship between pollinator fig wasps and fig trees is mutualistic, which means. A researcher describes species of fig tree parasites which compete and even prey upon the fig wasps during the many phases of the. wasps are directly dependent upon the fig tree-fig polli- quences in relation to fig growth; counts of seeds and M. Hochberg for his advice in statistics.
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. 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.
You'll Never Be Able To Unlearn What Figs Are | HuffPost Life
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.
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.
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.
You'll Never Be Able To Unlearn What Figs Are
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. When the figs become ripe, the wasps are attracted to the figs by the chemical 'smell' the figs release. The miniature wasps Ceratosolen arabicus crawl through the opening at the base of the fig.
They lay their eggs into the flowers that are inside the fig. While they do this, they pollinate the remaining flowers. This relationship between pollinator fig wasps and fig trees is mutualistic, which means that both the fig and the wasp benefit and in fact both need each other to survive.
The delicate fig wasps have a lifecycle that is completed inside the fig. The wingless males emerge first from the flowers inside the fig and mate with the winged females. They then make a hole in the fig so that the females can escape. Once a ripe fig is opened, the oxygen in the air stimulates the females to emerge from the tiny flowers inside the fig. The females fly out and begin searching for the next fig to begin the lifecycle again Some species of fig wasp have a very short life span, having only about nine hours to escape the fig and find another fig to lay their eggs.
A tale of loyalty and betrayal, starring figs and wasps
In monoecious species, the female flowers mature first, signalling the syconium to release a fragrant scent.
Enticed by the odour, a pregnant female wasp enters the syconium through a tiny opening in the centre. The wasp is carrying pollen from the flower where she was born. Once inside the syconium, she deposits the pollen, fertilising the flowers.
Their purpose completed, the wingless male wasps die Then she lays her eggs in the female flowers, using long tubes called ovipositors. The mother wasp now has only 24 hours to live. Before she dies, like any good mother, she ensures the survival of her babies. She injects the flowers with a chemical that transforms them into fat, rounded structures called galls.
When the eggs hatch, these galls will provide food and shelter for the young offspring. They are fig wasp nurseries.
New phase proposed in the relationship between figs and wasps
The young wasps will grow to adulthood, and even mate with each other, within the syconium. Then the males and females face very different fates. View image of A male Waterstoniella masii emerging from Ficus stupenda Credit: They bite through the syconium, creating an opening for the winged females to fly out.
Their purpose completed, the wingless male wasps die, and the syconium ripens into mature, fruit-containing seeds. Meanwhile the female wasps collect pollen from the male flowers, which have just matured. They stuff the pollen into specialised pollen pockets, located above the abdomen.
The nature of dioecious fig trees creates an evolutionary conflict, one that the fig wasps seem to be losing They then leave in search of another fig syconium. There they will deposit their cargo of pollen, lay eggs, and start another life cycle.
Thanks to their short life cycle of just two months, the fig wasps ensure that the fig trees produce fruit all year round. As a result, in rainforests many birds and animals depend on figs for food, making them keystone species that support the entire ecosystem.
By nesting in the figs, the fig wasps indirectly help in maintaining biodiversity and population density. It is a stable partnership that benefits both members, and the wider ecosystem.