Yucca flower and moth relationship test

Prodoxidae - Wikipedia

yucca flower and moth relationship test

This yucca moth is inside the flower of a yucca, Yucca glauca. Photo by probably started as a relationship of exploitation with the moth feeding on the yucca. The obligate pollination mutualism between yuccas (Agavaceae) and yucca moths the adult moth pollinates yucca flowers and her progeny feed on developing seeds, is one of the plied successfully in comparative analyses to test rates of. cula and Parategeticula) actively pollinate the yucca flowers into which they nism of pollination differs between yucca moths and Greya politella: yucca moths . We observed oviposition and tested pollinator effectiveness on experimental.

Actually, there are a number of species of yucca, each with its corresponding partner, a species of Tegeticula or Parategeticula moth. This mutually beneficial relationship probably started as a relationship of exploitation with the moth feeding on the yucca.

yucca flower and moth relationship test

This is still the case with a number of close relatives of Tegeticula, members of the Prodoxidae family. The yucca moth is a non-descript, small, whitish moth that blends well with the color of the yucca blossoms where it spends most of its brief adult life.

yucca flower and moth relationship test

A very distinctive feature of Tegeticula is the absence of the long tongue, characteristic of most moths and butterflies. Instead, it has tentacles around its mouth that serve a very important function and make possible its job as a pollinator.

The adult yucca moth does not need to feed because it is so short lived. However, the female gathers pollen, which it holds under its chin with the help of the tentacles. Males and females emerge from their cocoons in the spring in synchrony with the blossoming of the species of yucca with which they are partners. They meet and mate on the yucca blossoms and then the job of the females starts.


She visits the anthers of the flower and scrapes the pollen from several of them shaping it into a large lump. Then she leaves in search of another inflorescence, not just another flower in the same bunch but in a different plant altogether, assuring in this manner the cross pollination of the yucca. The larvae of the moths rely on yucca seeds as nourishment and this is also cost inflicted on the plants to maintain the mutualism.

After setting up a test experiment which involved pairing species of Prodoxidae with different host plants, the results have shown that moths that were able to develop a pollination-type relationship with the new plant species were more successful and would better be able to reproduce than moths that were unable to do so Pellmyr ; Groman Another study takes a look at coevolution as a primary driver of change and diversification in the yucca moth and the Joshua treemore commonly known as the yucca palm.

Creation Safari Yucca Moth & Yucca Plants

The researchers tested this hypothesis by setting up a differential selection of two species of yucca moths and two corresponding species of yucca palms which they pollinate. The study showed floral traits involving pollination evolved substantially more rapidly than other flower features.

Mutualism of the Month: Yucca and their moths — Feed the data monster

The study then looks at phylogeny and determines that coevolution is the major evolutionary force behind diversification in the yucca palms when pollinated moths were present. The researchers of the Joshua tree show that setting up phylogenetic patterns using maximum likelihood techniques, can be a powerful tool to analyze the divergence in species Godsoe Researchers have again tried to demonstrate the absolute minimal level of evolution needed to secure a yucca plant and moth mutualism.

The researchers attempt to find an answer as to how integral coevolution was as the driving force behind various adaptions between the yucca moth and plant species. Phylogenetic examination was also used here to reconstruct the trait evolution of the pollinating yucca moths and their non-mutualistic variants.

Yucca moth pollination

This helps moderate the number of larva that hatch within each flower, and prevents the plant from aborting the flower altogether, which it will do if too many eggs are laid. Flowers of soapweed yucca. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on yucca seeds within the fruit.

Typically, there are more seeds than the larvae in a particular flower can eat since the plant aborts flowers that are too heavily laden with eggs.

yucca flower and moth relationship test

When the larvae finish eating, they burrow out of the fruit — usually during rain events, interestingly — and burrow down into the ground to make their cocoon and wait until the next spring when the whole process plays out again. So each species depends upon each other for survival, and both benefit from the relationship.