The fate of Corydalis cava elaiosomes within an ant colony of Myrmica rubra: Elaiosomes are preferentially fed to larvae

  • Fischer R
  • Ölzant S
  • Wanek W
 et al. 
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In this study, the distribution of Corydalis cava (Fumariaceae) elaiosomes was monitored between the larvae & workers of laboratory colonies of Myrmica rubra. In the first part of the study, 15N labelled elaiosomes were found to be mainly consumed by larvae. Under the given laboratory conditions, elaiosomes proved to be a far more attractive diet for the larvae than Bhatkar diet, contributing 87+-2% of the daily nitrogen & 79+-3% of daily carbon incorporation of larvae during the first 4 days of the experiment. The mean elaiosome incorporation met 73+-5% of nitrogen & 63+-6% of carbon demand of workers during the first 4 days of the experiment. Generally, incorporation rates in workers (per dry body mass) were lower both for carbon & nitrogen during the experiment, by a factor of 6.8 for nitrogen & by a factor of 6.2 for carbon compared to larvae. On a colony basis, workers received 39% & larvae 61% of the elaiosome nitrogen. The results indicate that elaiosomes are a major food source for growing larvae & thus support the hypothesis that elaiosomes play an important role in the life cycle of temperate ants.

Author-supplied keywords

  • 13C
  • 15N
  • Elaiosomes
  • Food distribution
  • Myrmecochory
  • Stable isotopes

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  • Wolfgang WanekUniversity of Vienna Department of Microbiology and Ecosystem Science

  • R. C. Fischer

  • S. M. Ölzant

  • V. Mayer

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