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Mutualistic ants contribute to tank-bromeliad nutrition

Leroy, Céline and Carrias, Jean-François and Corbara, Bruno and Pelozuelo, Laurent and Dézerald, Olivier and Brouard, Olivier and Dejean, Alain and Céréghino, Régis Mutualistic ants contribute to tank-bromeliad nutrition. (2013) Annals of Botany, 112 (5). 919-926. ISSN 0305-7364

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mct147


Backgroundand Aims Epiphytism imposes physiological constraints resulting fromthe lackof access to the nutrient sources available to ground-rooted plants. A conspicuous adaptation in response to that lack is the phytotelm (plantheld waters) of tank-bromeliad species that are often nutrient-rich. Associations with terrestrial invertebrates also result in higher plant nutrient acquisition. Assuming that tank-bromeliads rely on reservoir-assisted nutrition, it was hypothesized that the dual association with mutualistic ants and the phytotelm food web provides greater nutritional benefits to the plant compared with those bromeliads involved in only one of these two associations. Methods Quantitative (water volume, amount of fine particulate organic matter, predator/prey ratio, algal density) and qualitative variables (ant-association and photosynthetic pathways) were compared for eight tank- and one tankless-bromeliad morphospecies from French Guiana. An analysis was also made of which of these variables affect nitrogen acquisition (leaf N and δ¹⁵N). Key results all variables were significantly different between tank-bromeliad species. Leaf N concentrations and leaf δ¹⁵N were both positively correlated with the presence of mutualistic ants. The amount of fine particulate organic matter and predator/prey ratio had a positive and negative effect on leaf d15N, respectively. Water volume was positively correlated with leaf N concentration whereas algal density was negatively correlated. Finally, the photosynthetic pathway (C₃ vs. CAM) was positively correlated with leaf N concentration with a slightly higher N concentration for C₃-Tillandsioideae compared with CAM-Bromelioideae. Conclusion: The study suggests that some of the differences in N nutrition between bromeliad species can be explained by the presence of mutualistic ants. From a nutritional standpoint, it is more advantageous for a bromeliad to use myrmecotrophy via its roots than to use carnivory via its tank. The results highlight a gap in our knowledge of the reciprocal interactions between bromeliads and the various trophic levels (from bacteria to large metazoan predators) that intervene in reservoir-assisted nutrition.

Item Type:Article
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)
French research institutions > Institut de Recherche pour le Développement - IRD (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier - UT3 (FRANCE)
Other partners > Université Blaise Pascal - UBP (FRANCE)
Other partners > Université des Antilles et de la Guyane (FRANCE)
Laboratory name:
Deposited On:04 Dec 2013 15:17

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