Evolutionary Tricks: How violets disperse their seeds | Tomorrow Today - The Science Magazine | DW | 13.06.2013
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Evolutionary Tricks: How violets disperse their seeds

Many plants are dependent on outside help to ensure that their offspring flourish. Violets enlist the aid of ants and slugs to carry away their seeds and release them where they can grow.

Ein Repro zeigt die Blueten des Hain-Veilchens (Vilola riviniana), das zur Blume des Jahres 2002 gewaehlt wurde. Jaehrlich wird von der Stiftung zum Schutz gefaehrdeter Pflanzen eine gefaehrdete Blume zur Blume des Jahres gekuert. (AP Photo/Repro/Fabian Bimmer)

Kerstin Reifenrath, a biologist in Darmstadt, has deciphered the interaction between plant and helper. She found that elaiosomes - appendages on the violet seeds containing a cocktail of fatty acids, amino acids and sugars - are eaten by ants and slugs. However, the animals do not digest the seeds, which are able to germinate many meters away from the parent plant.

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