The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences

The herbivore s dilemma: never enough nitrogen

Naomi Pierce (Harvard University)

When: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - 4:00pm - May 9, 2012 - 5:00pm
Where: 100 Life Sciences Building, Berg Auditorium
Name: David Hughes

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.