Plant seeds use fecal mimicry to fool beetles

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Plant seeds use fecal mimicry to fool beetles

Postby biokit » Nov 08 2016 3:56 am

We have seen many animals survive by being camouflaged to avoid being eaten by their predators. But have you seen any plants protect themselves by mimicry? A team consisted of researchers from both University of Cape Town and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, has found an example of that - a seed from a plant uses mimicry to fool a beetle. They published their paper in the journal Nature Plants, which also have other studies on recombinant mouse proteins. In their paper they describe the relationship between the seeds and the beetles and the deceptive dispersal they witnessed through observation.

In fact, many examples of animals or plant mimicry have been noted and reported in studies published before, but until now, no examples of a plant using mimicry to disperse seeds have been documented. The research which seeds of a grassy plant known as Ceratocaryum argenteum were somehow dispersed used to draw public attention, but no one had figured out how it was occurring. The researchers write that they believed it was because mice carried them about. To make sure about the guess, they dropped 195 of the seeds near monitoring stations in De Hoop Nature Reserve and recorded what happened with video cameras.

Over a single day, dung beetles moving through the area had grabbed nearly half of the seeds and rolled them to nearby locations where they buried them later. As you know, dung beetles normally grab animal droppings and bury them for eating or use them for a place to lay eggs.

Subsequently, the researchers dug up all the seeds which were buried by the beetles and found no traces of beetles around, let alone any eggs laid by dung beetles. The results suggested that those beetles discovered the ruse as they attempted to eat them or lay eggs. Therefore, the team guessed that the dung beetles had been fooled into carrying the seeds to a distant places and planting them and got no reward for their efforts.

They inspected the seeds and found that they looked like bontebok dung a lot. What's more, the chemical composition of the seeds closely resembled dung as well. It must be the smell of the seeds that fools the beetles.
Last edited by mdfenko on Nov 08 2016 9:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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