Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 209–221 | Cite as

Comparative chemistry of elaiosomes of three species ofTrillium

  • Janet Lanza
  • Marlene A. Schmitt
  • Atif B. Awad


This study was designed to compare the chemistry of elaiosomes of three sympatric species ofTrillium to discover if there are correlations between chemistry and dispersal rates by ants. We quantified the amount of proteins and neutral lipids and qualitatively analyzed the fatty acids occurring in triglyceride, diglyceride, monoglyceride, and free fatty acid fractions.T. grandiflorum had the highest lipid concentration per milligram of protein and the highest total lipid per elaiosome, followed byT. erectum and then byT. undulatum. Oleic acid (18∶1) was abundant in all lipid fractions of each species. This fatty acid, which is responsible for corpse-carrying behavior in some ants, probably causes ants to pick up diaspores. Linoleic acid (18∶2) is relatively abundant inT. erectum andT. grandiflorum but not inT. undulatum and may cause ants that have picked up diaspores to move (carry) those diaspores back to the nest. Total elaiosome mass and fatty acid composition appear to explain whyT. erectum is dispersed most rapidly and why ants that have picked up elaiosomes move moreT. grandiflorum thanT. undulatum diaspores.

Key words

Trillium ant dispersal Hymenoptera Formicidae elaiosomes lipids diglycerides triglycerides oleic acid linoleic acid 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janet Lanza
    • 1
  • Marlene A. Schmitt
    • 1
  • Atif B. Awad
    • 2
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentState University of New York College at FredoniaFredonia
  2. 2.Nutrition Program, School of Health Related SciencesState University of New York at BuffaloBuffalo

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