The herbivore s dilemma: never enough nitrogen
Naomi Pierce (Harvard University)
Herbivores face special dietary challenges.
This is particularly true for insects that both consume and live on their host plants, where nitrogen is typically a limiting nutrient.
In this talk, I will describe two striking examples of how dietary constraints have shaped the evolution of herbivorous lineages: lycaenid butterflies whose larval association with ants is often mediated by protein-rich secretions, and ants that live primarily in the canopy and rely upon specialized gut symbionts to compensate for the nitrogen shortfall.