Neotropical Entomology

, Volume 47, Issue 6, pp 750–756 | Cite as

Ants Associated with Turnera subulata (Turneraceae): Elaiosome Attraction, Seed Dispersion and Germination

  • M L C Rocha
  • P F Cristaldo
  • J S Cruz
  • J J M Sacramento
  • D V Ferreira
  • A P A AraújoEmail author
Ecology, Behavior and Bionomics


Symbiosis between plants and ants include examples in which the plant provides shelter and/or food for ants that, in turn, act in the defense or in the dispersion of seeds from the host plant. Although traditionally referred as mutualistic, the results of these interactions may vary with the ecological context in which patterns are involved. A range of species have facultative association with Turnera subulata (Turneraceae). Here, using behavioral bioassays, we investigated the effects of the most frequent ant species associated with T. subulata (Brachymyrmex sp.1, Camponotus blandus (Smith), Dorymyrmex sp.1, Crematogaster obscurata Emery, and Solenopsis invicta Buren) in the dispersion of plant host seeds and in the number of seedlings around the associated ant nests. We also evaluated the effects of these ant species in the germination of T. subulata seeds, in the consumption of elaiosome, and in the attractiveness to elaiosome odor. Our results showed that the ant species associated with T. subulata presented variation in the attraction by the odor and in the rate of consumption of the elaiosomes. However, none of the ant species studied contributed significantly to the increase of seed germination and seedling growth. Our results suggest that the consumption of the elaiosome by ant species is not a determinant factor to the success of germination of T. subulata. However, such species could contribute indirectly to seed germination by carrying seeds to sites more fertile to germination. In general, our results help to elucidate the results of ecological interactions involving ants and plants.


Myrmecochory plant-ant context-dependent symbiosis 

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (DOCX 88 kb)


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Copyright information

© Sociedade Entomológica do Brasil 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • M L C Rocha
    • 1
    • 2
  • P F Cristaldo
    • 1
    • 3
  • J S Cruz
    • 1
  • J J M Sacramento
    • 1
  • D V Ferreira
    • 1
    • 2
  • A P A Araújo
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Lab de Interações Ecológicas, Depto de EcologiaUniv Federal de SergipeSão CristóvãoBrasil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e ConservaçãoUniv Federal de SergipeSão CristóvãoBrasil
  3. 3.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Agricultura e BiodiversidadeUniv Federal de SergipeSão CristóvãoBrasil

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