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Ant Inhibition of Pollen Function: A Possible Reason Why Ant Pollination is Rare

Andrew J. Beattie, Christine Turnbull, R. B. Knox and E. G. Williams
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 71, No. 3 (Mar., 1984), pp. 421-426
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2443499
Page Count: 6
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Ant Inhibition of Pollen Function: A Possible Reason Why Ant Pollination is Rare
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Abstract

Ant pollination systems are remarkably rare. We show that pollen exposed to ants for brief periods exhibits reduced viability, reduced percent germination, and shorter pollen tubes relative to control pollen. Pollination with ant-borne pollen also results in lower seed-set than pollination with untreated pollen. This disruption of pollination processes must have exerted a powerful selection pressure against the evolution of ant-pollination systems. It is suggested that the nest-building and brood-rearing habits of ants require that they secrete large amounts of antibiotics to combat pathogenic microorganisms. It is these secretions that disrupt pollen function. Bees and wasps exhibit very different nesting behavior, consequently there are no chemical barriers to their coevolving with flowers as pollinators.

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