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Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 86, Issue 3, pp 146–149 | Cite as

Reduced Chitinase Activities in Ant Plants of the Genus Macaranga

  • Martin Heil
  • Brigitte Fiala
  • K. Eduard Linsenmair
  • Thomas Boller
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Abstract.

Many plant species have evolved mutualistic associations with ants, protecting their host against detrimental influences such as herbivorous insects. Letourneau (1998) reported in the case of Piper that ants defend their plants principally against stem-boring insects and also reduce fungal infections on inflorescences. Macaranga plants that were experimentally deprived of their symbiotic Crematogaster ants suffered heavily from shoot borers and pathogenic fungi (Heil 1998). Here we report that ants seem to reduce fungal infections actively in the obligate myrmecophyte Macaranga triloba (Euphorbiaceae), while ant-free plants can be easily infected. We also found extremely low chitinase activity in Macaranga plants. The plants' own biochemical defense seems to be reduced, and low chitinase activity perhaps may represent a predisposition for the evolution of myrmecophytism. These plants are therefore highly dependent on their ants, which obviously function not only as an antiherbivore defense but also as an effective agent against fungal pathogens.

Keywords

Plant Species Fungal Infection Defend Fungal Pathogen Chitinase 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Heil
    • 1
  • Brigitte Fiala
    • 1
  • K. Eduard Linsenmair
    • 1
  • Thomas Boller
    • 2
  1. 1.Lehrstuhl für Zoologie III, Theodor-Boveri-Institut, Biozentrum, Am Hubland, D-97074 Würzburg, GermanyDE
  2. 2.Institut für Botanik, Hebelstasse 1, Universität Basel, CH-4056 Basel, SwitzerlandCH

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