Ant-plant symbioses involve over 110 ant species in five subfamilies that are facultative or obligate occupants of stem, leaf or root domatia formed by hundreds of ant-plant species. The phylogenetic distribution and geological ages of these associations, and the frequency of gains or losses of domatium, are largely unknown. We compiled an up-to-date list of ant domatium-bearing plants, estimated their probable true number from model-based statistical inference, generated dated phylogenies that include c. 50% of ant-plant lineages, and traced the occurrence of domatia and extrafloral nectaries on a 1181-species tree, using likelihood and Bayesian methods. We found 681 vascular plants with domatia (159 genera in 50 families) resulting from minimally 158 inferred domatium origins and 43 secondary losses over the last 19 Myr. The oldest African ant-plant symbioses are younger than those in Australasia and the Neotropics. The best statistical model suggests that the true number of myrmecophytes may approach 1140 species. The phylogenetic distribution of ant-plants shows that domatia evolved from a range of pre-adapted morphological structures and have been lost frequently, suggesting that domatia have no generalizable effect on diversification. The Miocene origin of ant-plant symbioses is consistent with inferred changes in diet and behaviour during ant evolution.
|Number of pages||14|
|State||Published - Jul 1 2015|
- Ant-plant symbioses
- Extrafloral nectaries (EFNs)