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Transgenerational effects and the cost of ant tending in aphids
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Germany.
2013 (English)In: Oecologia, ISSN 0029-8549, E-ISSN 1432-1939, Vol. 173, no 3, 779-790 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In mutualistic interactions, partners obtain a net benefit, but there may also be costs associated with the provision of benefits for a partner. The question of whether aphids suffer such costs when attended by ants has been raised in previous work. Transgenerational effects, where offspring phenotypes are adjusted based on maternal influences, could be important in the mutualistic interaction between aphids and ants, in particular because aphids have telescoping generations where two offspring generations can be present in a mature aphid. We investigated the immediate and transgenerational influence of ant tending on aphid life history and reproduction by observing the interaction between the facultative myrmecophile Aphis fabae and the ant Lasius niger over 13 aphid generations in the laboratory. We found that the effect of ant tending changes dynamically over successive aphid generations after the start of tending. Initially, total aphid colony weight, aphid adult weight and aphid embryo size decreased compared with untended aphids, consistent with a cost of ant association, but these differences disappeared within four generations of interaction. We conclude that transgenerational effects are important in the aphid-ant interactions and that the costs for aphids of being tended by ants can vary over generations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 173, no 3, 779-790 p.
Keyword [en]
Aphid-ant mutualism, Maternal effects, Reproductive investment, Embryo size, Plasticity
National Category
Zoology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-96878DOI: 10.1007/s00442-013-2659-yISI: 000325819700014OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-96878DiVA: diva2:668065
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 621-2010-5437
Note

AuthorCount:4;

Available from: 2013-11-28 Created: 2013-11-28 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Dynamics of the aphid-ant mutualism
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dynamics of the aphid-ant mutualism
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

An appreciation of the role of mutualism is essential when studying ecology and evolution in most ecosystems. Information covering aspects of mutualistic interactions can serve as a complement to the somewhat one-sided perspective from the 1950’s and 60’s that is used when teaching biology. In this thesis I applied an in-depth approach in which variation in the interspecific interaction between Aphis fabae aphids and Lasius niger ants was studied both in the field and in the laboratory. An emphasis was put on studies spanning several consecutive aphid generations. This approach revealed important differences between ant tended aphids and those without ants. In the lab, I found an initial decrease in aphid adult size and reproductive investment in the first generations after the start of ant tending, which was followed by a recovery to the pre-tending situation after about four generations. Another laboratory experiment showed an increase in alate (winged aphid) production from exposure to aphid alarm pheromones, and an even stronger decrease in alate production from ant attendance, suggesting that ants have gained the upper hand in an evolutionary conflict over aphid dispersal. Results from a field experiment further emphasized the possibility of negative effects of ants on aphids, showing that ant-tended aphid colonies experienced a higher rate of parasitoid attacks, produced fewer alates and embryos in adult aphids. The thesis highlights the scope for variation in the net effect of the interaction for aphids, and argues that, depending on the environmental circumstances, the interaction may sometimes and perhaps even often not really be a case of mutualism. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2015. 24 p.
Keyword
mutualism, transgenerational, aphids, aphid-ant, conflict of interest, (E)-β-farnesene, phenotypic plasticity, predation risk, wing induction, maternal effect, reproductive investment, embryo size
National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-111301 (URN)978-91-7649-076-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-02-06, Ahlmannsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2015-01-15 Created: 2014-12-30 Last updated: 2017-11-22Bibliographically approved

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