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An assassin among predators: the relationship between plant-ants, their host myrmecophytes and the reduviidae zelus annulosus

Revel, Messika and Dejean, Alain and Céréghino, Régis and Roux, Olivier An assassin among predators: the relationship between plant-ants, their host myrmecophytes and the reduviidae zelus annulosus. (2010) PLoS ONE, 5 (10). 1-7. ISSN 1932-6203

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0013110


Tropical plants frequently live in association with ants that protect their foliage from defoliators. Among them, myrmecophytes have evolved mutualisms with a limited number of plant-ants that they shelter and feed, and, in return, benefit from some protection. Hirtella physophora (Chrysobalanaceae), for example, houses Allomerus decemarticulatus (Myrmicinae) that build gallery-shaped traps to catch large prey. In French Guiana, we frequently observed the assassin bug Zelus annulosus (Reduviidae, Harpactorinae) on the leaves of H. physophora. Here, we studied the distribution of Zelus annulosus among understory plants in the Guianese rainforest and found it only on pubescent plants, including H. Physophora, whether or not it was sheltering an A. decemarticulatus colony, but only rarely on other myrmecophytes. The relationship between Z. annulosus and its host plants is, then, also mutualistic, as the plant trichomes act as an enemy-free space protecting the nymphs from large predatory ants, while the nymphs protect their host-plants from herbivorous insects. Through their relationship with A. decemarticulatus colonies, Z. annulosus individuals are protected from army ants, while furnishing nothing in return. In those cases where H. physophora sheltered both an A. decemarticulatus colony and Z. annulosus nymphs, certain plant individuals repeatedly sheltered nymphs, indicating that female bugs may select not only pubescent plants but also particular H. physophora treelets having characteristics more favourable to the development of their progeny.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Thanks to Public Library of Science editor. The definitive version is available at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0013110
HAL Id:hal-00911249
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:Other partners > AgroParisTech (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique - CIRAD (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse - Toulouse INP (FRANCE)
French research institutions > Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - INRA (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier - UT3 (FRANCE)
Other partners > Université des Antilles et de la Guyane (FRANCE)
Laboratory name:
Deposited On:29 Nov 2013 08:26

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