Will Acacia Cornigera Still Be Well-adapted if They Do Not Have Large Thorns and Beltian Bodies?

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Acacia Cornigera has been known as the bullhorn acacia. As its name suggests, the species Acacia Cornigera has horn-like thorns, which provide hostage for their mutualistic partners, known as the Acacia ants- Pseudomyrmex ferruginea. Other than that, what is special about Cornigera, is that it consists of yellowish nodules at the tips of their subdivided leaves. The yellowish nodules are Beltian bodies. They are rich in fats and proteins, providing the ants with food. In addition, they produce characteristic extrafloral nectar (Gonzalez-Teuber et al. 2009). These adaptations of Acacia Cornigera are uncommon comparing to other plant forms. It is noteworthy that, not only the ants are beneficial. The ants in return protect the plants from herbivores and competing plants. As a result, the adaptations of the ants’ habits, the anatomy and the physiology of the plants form a mutualism relationship between the two species (Rickson, 1975).

The complex living arrangements of Acacia Cornigera and Pseudomyrmex ferruginea have led to extensive studies of the special growth form by many publications. Studies has suggested that Beltian bodies must have evolved to serve as a food source for the populations of ants that Cornigera interacts with. The Beltian body tissues are especially high in protein and RNA – which is also a type of protein. In addition, Beltian bodies also have a high proportion of fats in the form of lipids. The results show that the anatomy of Acacia Cornigera is engaged in a mutually beneficial relationship with the ants (Rickson,1975).


As the thorns and the Beltian bodies of Acacia Cornigera serve such a critical function to the plant-ant interaction, I would like to suggest that the relati...

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...plants are needed to be collected. In conclusion, whether or not the traits of Acacia Cornigera contribute to a higher fitness, still needs to be examined through studies and experiments.

Works Cited

Gonzalez-Teuber, Marcia, Martin Heil 2009. The Role of Extrafloral Nectar Amino Acids for the Preferences of Facultative and Obligate Ant Mutualists. J Chem Ecol 35(4): 459-468.

Heil, Martin, Birgit Baumann, Ralf Kruger, K. Eduard Linsenmair. 2004. Main nutrient compounds in food bodies of Mexican Acacia ant-plants. Chemoecology 14(1): 45-52.

Heil, Martin, Domancar Orona-Tamayo, Sascha Eilmus, Stefanie Kautz, Marcia Gonzalez-Teuber. 2010. Chemical communication and coevolution in an ant-plant mutualism. Chemoecology 20(2): 63-74.

Rickson, Fred R. 1975. The Ultrastructure of Acacia cornigera L. Beltian Body Tissue. American Journal of Botany 62(9):913-922
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