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Evidence for the transfer of a soil‐borne contaminant from plants to ants via an aphid mediator
- DE LA RIVA, DEBORAH G., JONES, MICHAEL B., TRUMBLE, JOHN T.
- Ecological entomology 2017 v.42 no.5 pp. 545-552
- Linepithema humile, Myzus persicae, Raphanus sativus, ant colonies, bioaccumulation, diet, dose response, honeydew, invasive species, pollution, queen insects, radishes, selenium, tissues, toxic substances, worker ants
- 1. Uptake of environmental contaminants by lower trophic groups can have negative effects on higher trophic groups. This study tested the ability of selenium, an environmental contaminant found in high concentrations throughout the tissues of certain accumulating plants, to be transferred to ants via aphid tissue and honeydew. 2. Plants of the selenium accumulator, Raphanus sativus (wild radish), were watered with three different selenium treatments (0, 0.25 or 0.5 µg Se ml⁻¹). Aphids, Myzus persicae, and Argentine ant colonies, Linepithema humile, were added to each caged plant and allowed to interact freely. Ant colonies were supplemented with one of three different food options to encourage the consumption of aphids, aphid honeydew, or aphids and honeydew. 3. The accumulation of selenium by each trophic group and a trophic transfer factor (TTF) was calculated. The TTF for plants to aphids was > 1, indicating biomagnification, whereas the TTF for aphids to worker ants was < 1, indicating only biotransfer. Accumulated levels by worker ants did not statistically differ as a result of diet. 4. The amounts of selenium acquired by ants as a factor of diet and caste were compared. Plants, aphids and worker ants accumulated selenium in a dose‐dependent manner. Ant queens did not contain detectable amounts of selenium. Honeydew contained comparable amounts of selenium to plant selenium levels. 5. Access to toxic compounds via honeydew and insect protein may have negative effects on the range expansion of invasive species, such as the Argentine ant.