Trade-off between reciprocal mutualists: local resource availability-oriented interaction in fig/fig wasp mutualism

Authors

  • Rui Wu Wang,

    Corresponding author
    1. Key Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan, 650223, China;
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  • Lei Shi,

    1. Statistics and Mathematics College, Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, Kunming, Yunnan 650221, China;
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  • Shi Meng Ai,

    1. Key Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan, 650223, China;
    2. Department of Mathematics, Yunnan Agricultural University, Yunnan 650201, China; and
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  • Qi Zheng

    1. Key Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Evolution, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan, 650223, China;
    2. Graduate School of Kunming Medical College, Kunming, Yunnan 650031, China
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*Correspondence author. E-mail: wangrw@mail.kiz.ac.cn

Summary

  • 1The mechanisms that prevent competition (conflict) between the recipient and co-operative actor in co-operative systems remain one of the greatest problems for evolutionary biology. Previous hypotheses suggest that self-restraint, dispersal or spatial constraints can prevent direct competition for local resources or any other common resources, thereby maintaining stable co-operation interactions. In this study, we use the obligate fig–fig-wasp mutualism to examine whether the above mechanisms can maintain stable co-operation sufficiently between figs and fig wasps.
  • 2Our data on obligate co-operation between figs (Ficus racemosa Linn.) and fig wasps (Ceratoslen fusciceps Mayr) show that the number of viable seeds of figs is positively correlated with the number of pollinator offspring when the number of vacant female flowers is high while the foundress number is low (two foundresses). Meanwhile, they are negatively correlated when the number of vacant female flowers is low and the number of foundresses is increased manually (eight foundresses). The correlation coefficient between viable seeds and wasp offspring (galls) depends on vacant female flower availability.
  • 3Our data suggest that the interaction between figs and fig wasps is conditional, and that they co-operate when local resource availability is plentiful but are in conflict when local resource availability is limited. The self-restraint, dispersal and spatial heterogeneity previously hypothesized in maintaining stable co-operation cannot sufficiently prevent the symbionts from utilizing more local resources at the expense of the recipients. The conflict, which can disrupt the co-operation interaction, exists after the local resource is saturated with symbionts. The repression of symbiont increase, therefore repressing the utilization of local resources in the conflict period, is crucial in the maintenance and evolution of co-operation.

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