Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I need You to Survive!

Source
  Introduction: Fig wasps belong to the family Agaonid. These insects are closely involved with fig trees, Ficus.  Each species of fig wasps works closely with a specific type of fig tree. Figs trees are originally from the Mediterranean area, but they are grown all over the world [2], and there are multiple different varieties of figs as well. A fig tree has two types of fruit, caprifigs which are male and edible figs which are female [1]. The lifecycle of this relationship starts when a female wasp covered in pollen enters the ostiole, opening of an unripe fig, of a caprifig. While crawling through, the female usually loses her antennae and wings, so she will never escape. The female eventually reaches an area known as the syconium, which has both male and female flowers. There she lays her eggs and releases the pollen that she brought from her original fig and then she dies [3]. While the figs are ripening the male eggs hatch first and find the female eggs and fertilize them. Then the male eggs start chewing a hole in the fig to make an escape route for the females. Later the female wasps hatch and cover themselves in pollen. Once they have enough pollen they fly through the hole in search of another fig tree. And thus the cycle continues [4]. If a female wasp enters a female fig she eventually dies, but her death is not in vain because the pollen that she brings fertilizes the fruit, and creates the fruit people/animals eat[1].



Source
  Description of Relationship:  The relationship between figs and fig wasps has been occurring for the last 80 million years [1].  It is apparent that these two species coevolved over the years and have become dependent on each other in order to survive [2]. This relationship is also known as a mutualistic relationship because both the fig tree and fig wasp benefit from each other. These two species exist because the other helps with the process of reproduction. The biology of the female wasps is that they have wings and are able to fly [3]. The male wasps have no wings and are unable to fly [3].



Source
  Cost/Benefits Analysis:
The cost of this relationship is very minimal to the benefit. Fig trees main cost of this relationship is being dependent on the fig wasp. If the fig trees cannot get their flowers fertilized by the wasps they are unable to reproduce which is a major problem. The fig wasps main cost is sacrificing the mother wasp to the fig tree because she is unable to escape due to the loss of her antennae and wings. The benefit between this mutualistic relationship is that both species are able to reproduce through the help of the other species. Also the fig tree gives shelter to the fig wasps, and in return the fig wasps fertilize the flowers of the fig which are found within. The cost outweighs the benefit because through sacrificing the mother wasp she is able produce many more wasps that will carry on to the next generation.


Movies to Watch




References 


2 comments:

  1. In class, we discussed a similar relationship of the orchid and moth. However, the author believes that genes will continually be selected for that enhance the benefit for each species. What kinds of benefits have consistently been selected for in fig wasps and fig trees in order to keep this relationship truly mutual?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Not exactly sure if I am answering your question correctly but the only benefits that I have noticed was that an unripe fig has a very small opening that only the fig wasp can get through and the fig wasps need protection for their eggs.

    ReplyDelete