BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: wasps

It’s a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the trees?

I would simply NEVER get involved with business in the Mafia because I am not 100% sure I could complete my side of the bargain. ( I have seen what happens in the movie ‘The Godfather‘.) It is hard to keep promise because you never know what situation can occur, and if you do fall back on your word, how will that person handle it.

In nature, there are many contracts made between animals. In biology they are known as “mutually beneficial relationship “. Animals coexist each expecting the other to hold up their side of the arrangement. However what happens when one partner does do their share? Well in the case of the Fig tree and the Fig wasp, the wasp dies. (kinda like the mafia)

Fig trees and wasps can make up a great mutualstic relationship. The fig tree’s figs are a perfect home for the wasps to lay their eggs, and in return the wasps have to spread the tree’s pollen. A study by students at Cornell University showed that the fig tree will purposely drop the fig containing the larva, letting the die as they hit the ground, if the wasp does not spread it’s pollen. dang.

Who knew trees were so tough? Maybe whoever said “the bark is worse than it’s bite”.

The study came about when graduate student Charlotte Jandér  wanted “to know what forces maintain this 80 million-year-old mutualism between figs and their wasp pollinators…What prevents the wasps from cheating and reaping the benefits of the relationship without paying the costs?” Now Charlotte knows the answer…death of their children.

Besides the 80 million-year-old relationship between fig trees and wasps, there are more than seven hundred species of fig trees and their mutullastic fig wasps. The pairings success is so remarkable it is hard to look at the fig tree’s tactic as cold or harsh, they have been together longer than humans. Maybe people will start to use more “tough love” to create a longlasting benefitial relationship.

No Drinking Age for Fruit Flies!

Photo Credit: digicla

Why can’t I drink alcohol but a mere fruit fly is able to, you ask? Well unless you wish for wasps to lay their eggs inside you I suggest you drop that argument.

A new article explains what is going on. Fruit flies eat a lot of yeast (which as we know from our studies breaks down sugar and in the process produces alcohol). They do this because a certain kind of wasp actually lays its’ eggs inside of a fruit fly, so that when the eggs hatch the baby wasps can eat the living fly and eventually leave the body when they are grown. Beware because things get more disgusting than that…

To prevent such malicious murder, the flies have a trick of their own. They consume so much yeast that they are considered “drunk”. The alcohol smells so bad to the wasps that not only do they choose to not lay their eggs within that particular fly, but any eggs they do lay meet a very violent end.

Here is where things get worse. In a study done by Dr. Schlenke, wasps were allowed to lay eggs in two flies. One fly was perfectly sober, and one was fed food that had 6% alcohol in it. As I’ve said, more wasps layer their eggs in the sober fly, and less in the drunk fly. However, the eggs that did get laid in the drunk fly did not meet an honorable end. Dr. Schlenke found that 65 percent of the eggs inside of the drunk fly not only died, but died because all of their tiny inside organs had shot out through their anus. At this point I wish that I was not writing about this article, but the show must go on.

It was also discovered by Dr. Schlenke that if a fly ate the alcohol ridden yeast before being violated by the wasps, it made no difference. Such a discovery lead scientists to ponder whether the flies realized the deadly wasps inside of them and so chose to eat the yeast then, in order to kill off the parasite. Further experiments with flies showed that the flies do indeed seek out the alcohol as a self medication to kill off the wasps inside of them.

Smart flies right? Can you believe that this is what fruit flies have to put up with? Or that little tiny flies can get drunk off the alcohol produced by yeast? I, for one, will take a drinking age of 21 any day instead of having tiny wasps live inside me. But thats just me, what do you think?

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