© ANA ZANGIROLAME GONÇALVES / UNICAMP
Odontomachus hastatus ant carries prey to its nest: its debris nourishes the Quesnelia arvensis bromeliad, commonly found on Cardoso Island
Some ant species contribute nutrients to their host plants, as in the case of the bromeliad Quesnelia arvensis. Commonly found in the Atlantic Forest of the Brazilian Southeast, it has green leaves with serrated edges and purple flowers. The feces and food remains of ants of the species Odontomachus hastatus, which make their nests among the roots of this plant, and Gnamptogenys moelleri, which shelter among its leaves, provide the plant with much of the nitrogen it needs to produce proteins and grow, according to researchers from the University of Campinas (Unicamp). Read more.