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An Unusual Animal-Plant Interaction: Feeding of Schomburgkia tibicinis (Orchidaceae) by Ants

Victor Rico-Gray, John T. Barber, Leonard B. Thien, Erik G. Ellgaard and Jeffrey J. Toney
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 76, No. 4 (Apr., 1989), pp. 603-608
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2444355
Page Count: 6
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An Unusual Animal-Plant Interaction: Feeding of Schomburgkia tibicinis (Orchidaceae) by Ants
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Abstract

The hollow pseudobulbs of Schomburgkia tibicinis (Orchidaceae; Central America) serve as domatia for many species of ants. The ants pack many of the pseudobulbs with debris including dead insects, plant material, and sand. Ants were fed 14C-labelled D-glucose in honey, killed, and placed in the pseudobulbs for up to eight weeks. Samples of plant tissue were harvested and tested for radioactivity after 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 weeks. The labelled material had moved into various parts of the plant and demonstrated direct nutrient uptake.

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