Biodiv Sci ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (11): 1324-1332.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2020234

Special Issue: 传粉生物学 昆虫多样性与生态功能

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Asymmetric interactions in fig-fig wasp mutualism

Liyuan Yang1,2,3, Ruiwu Wang4,*()   

  1. 1 Department of Ornamental Horticulture, School of Landscape Architecture, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University, Hangzhou 311300
    2 Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory of Germplasm Innovation and Utilization for Garden Plants, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University, Hangzhou 311300
    3 Key Laboratory of National Forestry and Grassland Administration on Germplasm Innovation and Utilization for Southern Garden Plants, Zhejiang Agriculture and Forestry University, Hangzhou 311300
    4 School of Ecology and Environment, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an 710129
  • Received:2020-06-09 Accepted:2020-08-06 Online:2020-11-20 Published:2020-08-25
  • Contact: Ruiwu Wang


Fig and fig-pollinating wasps constitute one of the most well-known systems of mutualistic interactions between species. However, interspecific competition and antagonism is increasingly observed in this obligate mutualism system, including competition over common resources, pollination cheating and host sanction, and an evolutionary arms race between the host tree and its pollinators. In the competitive and antagonistic interactions between fig and fig-pollinating wasps, three main asymmetric relationships have been identified: (1) asymmetric payoffs, i.e., asymmetric power between figs (host) and their pollinators (symbionts); (2) asymmetric rates of evolution; and (3) asymmetric information between figs and their pollinators. The asymmetric relationships may affect population dynamics and the mutual adaptation and evolutionary strategies of each species, which helps explain why both cooperation and conflict are simultaneously observed within a specific mutualism, and why diversified strategies and species coexistence are found in nearly all mutualism systems.

Key words: coevolution, pollination cheating, host sanction, evolutionary rate, arms race, asymmetric interaction