Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]

Alternative Title

Antocianinas y clorosis retardada: Inhibición de las hormigas zompopas (Atta cephalotes) en Inga punctata (Mimosaceae) y Zygia palmana (Fabaceae)



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Publication Date

May 2010


Leaves that undergo delayed greening with anthocyanins are suspected of having antiherbivore defenses in addition to low leaf nutrient content. This study examines two species with delayed greening, one with anthocyanins, Zygia palmana, and one without, Inga punctata, to determine whether anthocyanins deter herbivores more than low nutritional quality. Leaf samples were taken from 20 trees in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, carotinoids and anthocyanins were extracted from leaves and tested for concentrations as well as chemical preference to an herbivore, Atta cephalotes. There was a significant preference for older, fully green leaves in each species (p=.041), as well as a preference for the young leaves of Z. palmana that have little anthocyanins (p=.0009). This suggests that, while leafcutters prefer older leaves with higher nutritional content, anthocyanins further help to deter herbivores from attacking young leaves.


Las hojas verdes que presentan clorosis retardada con antocianinas, se sospecha que presentan defensas anti-herbívoras, además de un bajo contenido de nutrientes. Este estudio examinó dos especies con clorosis retardada, una con antocianinas, Zygia palmana y otra sin, Inga punctata para determinar si las antocianinas disuaden a los herbívoros más que el bajo contenido nutricional. Las muestras de las hojas fueron tomadas de 20 árboles en Monteverde, Costa Rica. Clorofíla a, clorofila b, carotenoides y antocianinas fueron extraídas de las hojas, se examinaron las concentraciones, así como la preferencia de los productos químicos en un herbívoro (Atta cephalotes). Hubo preferencia por las hojas viejas totalmente verdes (p=0.041), también hubo preferencia por las hojas jóvenes de Z. palmata que tuvieron pocas antocianinas (p=0.0009). Esto sugiere que mientras las zompopas prefieren las hojas más viejas con mayor contenido nutricional, las antocianinas ayudan a disuadir a los herbívoros.


Anthocyanins, Ants--Behavior, CIEE Spring 2010

Palabras claves

Hormigas--Comportamiento, CIEE Primavera 2010


10 pages

Geographic Location

Monteverde (Puntarenas, Costa Rica)

Holding Location

Monteverde Institute


English; Spanish

Media Type



Digital Only





Anthocyanins and delayed greening: Inhibition of leafcutter ants (Atta cephalotes) in Inga punctata (Mimosaceae) and Zygia palmana (Fabaceae), May 2010



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