Researchers have found a remarkable partnership between carnivorous pitcher plants and ants.
Situated in the peat swamp forests of Borneo, one species of pitcher plant has formed an unusual alliance with the insects. Swollen tendrils at the base of the plant and nectar secreted on its rim provide food and a home for the ants and in exchange the insects provide a host of services for the plant such as cleaning the pitcher to keep it slippery and attacking other insects that would otherwise try to munch on it.
"The symbiotic ants are shown to be crucial for the nutrition and survival of their host plant," said researcher Vincent Bazile.
"Carnivorous plants can have valuable allies in ants, benefiting from their poop and janitor, bodyguard and cutthroat services, researchers say."
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