How Do They Communicate? Plants and Ants (BioE 80 Spr 2015)

It was just another day with the sun shining down upon us when we came across the battle between the ants and the leaves. Flaring their spiracles, the ants charged against the angry leaves, which were bobbing up and down on their petioles, ready to face their impending doom with pride.

The ants managed to rip the leaves into shreds and claim the territory for themselves. After the vicious ants scurried into their respective holes, we morphed into scavengers and collected the carcasses as samples for our foldscope micropuzzle.

During the battle, we wondered about how the living things communicate, especially intercellularly amongst themselves.

Hovering over the dead ant, we couldn’t identify the individual cells but noted the translucency of the ant’s limbs and abdomen. We hypothesized the fluids contributed to the translucency and that they were responsible for most of the communication among cells. We also noted the thick lines that ran through the limbs and a tangle of similar lines in the abdomen as possible factors leading to better communication.

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The leaf disclosed its cells with distinct walls that seemed rather compartmentalized. On the ripped portions, a thin film appeared to have spurred communication by protecting the group of cells. The burst of fluid on the edges showed plants’ main medium for communication was similar to the animals.

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Looking into the miniscule anatomical structure of the samples, we got insights into basic communicative methods, but how these fluids and structures are used to communicate is an ambiguity.

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CONTRIBUTERS: James Bai and Julia Rosedale

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