Duroia hirsuta is a myrmecophyte tree species from the Amazon Forest.
It is one of some 37 species of
Duroia which are shrubs or canopy
trees in the family Rubiaceae, favouring ants (myrmecophilous), and
Central America as far north as Mexico, the Amazon Basin,
the Guiana Shield, the Brazilian Atlantic coast and planalto.
A number of
Duroia species, and possibly all, are capable of
biochemical interactions inhibiting the growth of neighbouring plants.
Analysis of root extracts from
Duroia hirsuta have yielded a strong
plant growth inhibitor plumericin, a tetracyclic iridoid lactone, and
duroin, another iridoid lactone.
This process, common amongst plants, is termed allelopathy. In the
Duroia hirsuta, the chemical inhibitor is aided by the Lemon
Ant, a resident on and in the tree, and playing an active role in
suppressing and destroying plant growth in the vicinity of their host
by injecting and spraying formic acid, and defending against
herbivores - other ant species such as Azteca spp. and Allomerus
octoarticulatus demerarae exhibit the same mutualism. The area
around this understory tree is often devoid of all other plant types,
leading to the local name 'Devil's garden'. The cost to the host
plant for this protection is considerable, since the resident ants
subject the tree to increased leaf cutting. Trees that grow outside
the cleared area often have the living tissues of their trunks
excavated and galled for ant accommodation.
New York Botanical Garden
^ J. E. Page; S. Madrinan; G. H. N. Towers (1994). "Identification of
a plant growth inhibiting iridoid lactone from
Duroia hirsuta, the
allelopathic tree of the 'Devil's Garden'". Experientia. 50 (9):
^ Rita Aquino; Nunziatina De Tommasi; Medardo Tapia; Maria Rosaria
Lauro; Luca Rastrelli (1999). "New 3-methyoxyflavones, an iridoid
lactone and a flavonol from
Duroia hirsuta". Journal of Natural
Products. 62 (4): 560–562. doi:10.1021/np9803631.
^ Megan E. Frederickson (2005). "Ant species confer different partner
benefits on two neotropical myrmecophytes". Oecologia. 143 (3):
387–395. doi:10.1007/s00442-004-1817-7. JSTOR 20062261.
^ David G. Campbell; P. Mick Richardson; Arito Rosas, Jr (1989).
"Field screening for allelopathy in tropical forest trees,
Duroia hirsuta, in the Brazilian Amazon". Biochemical
Systematics and Ecology. 17 (5): 403–407.
^ Megan E. Frederickson; Deborah M. Gordon (2007). "The devil to pay:
a cost of mutualism with
Myrmelachista schumanni ants in 'devil's
gardens' is increased herbivory on
Duroia hirsuta trees". Proceedings
of the Royal Society B. 274 (1613): 1117–1123.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2006.0415. PMC 2124481 .
^ "Ants are friendly to some trees, but not others". Science Daily.
November 9, 2009. Retrieved May 3, 2011.
Plant List: kew-65315