Research Abstract


An insect-induced novel plant phenotype for sustaining social life in a closed system

2012年11月13日 Nature Communications 3 : 1187 doi: 10.1038/ncomms2187


沓掛 磨也子1, 孟 憲英1, 片山 昇2, 二河 成男3, 柴尾 晴信4 & 深津 武馬1

  1. 独立行政法人 産業技術総合研究所(AIST)生物プロセス研究部門
  2. 京都大学 生態学研究センター
  3. 放送大学 教養学部
  4. 東京大学 広域システム科学系
Foraging, defense and waste disposal are essential for sustaining social insect colonies. Hence, their nest generally has an open structure, wherein specialized castes called workers and soldiers perform these tasks. However, some social aphids form completely closed galls, wherein hundreds to thousands of insects grow and reproduce for several months in isolation. Why these social aphids are not drowned by accumulated honeydew has been an enigma. Here we report a sophisticated biological solution to the waste problem in the closed system: the gall inner surface is specialized for absorbing water, whereby honeydew is promptly removed via the plant vascular system. The water-absorbing closed galls have evolved at least twice independently among social aphids. The plant-mediated waste removal, which entails insect’s manipulation of plant morphogenesis and physiology, comprises a previously unknown mechanism of nest cleaning, which can be regarded as ‘extended phenotype’ and ‘indirect social behavior’ of the social aphids.