Cycle of Fig and Fig Wasp Mutualism

Image displays and describes the life cycle of the fig and the fig wasp's interaction.

  1. The upper left corner of the image includes a drawing of a fig stem, leaves and young fruit. Caption reads: Ficus tremula with female phase figs receptive for pollination and oviposition.
  2. A drawing of a fig wasp is to the right of the fig stem, leaves, and young fruit. An arrow is pointing to the stem from the wasp. Caption reads: Philocaerus clairae - a galling non-pollinating fig wasp that enters the fig for oviposition at the same time as the pollinator.
  3. A drawing of a receptive fig is on the left side of the image below the drawing of the fig stem, leaves, and young fruit. Caption reads: Cross-section through a receptive fig. An arrow points at an ostiole in the cross-section
  4. Another image on the left side of the image, below the cross section, points to an area of the cross section to show an enlargement of a female fig wasp and fig parts. The wasp's ovipositor sheaths and ovipositor are labeled. The fig's style and ovule are also labeled. A caption beside the enlargement box reads: Pollinator ovipositing down style of floret inside fig and simultaneously placing pollen on the stigmas with her fore legs. She loses her wings and most of her antennae when negotiating the ostiole.
  5. A bold circling arrow, showing the next step in the cycle, points to the right of the fig stem, leaves, and young fruit drawing. It points to a drawing of a small fig. Caption reads: Interfloral phase - fig and wasp larval development taking 3 to 20 weeks.
  6. Below the drawing of the small fig are two drawings of fig wasps with arrows pointing from them to the drawing of the small fig. A caption between the two wasps reads: Otitesella (right) and Sycoryctes (above) - two non-pollinating fig wasps that oviposit through the fig wall during the interfloral phase. Otitesella species are gall formers and Sycoryctes species are parasitoids of galling fig wasps.
  7. A bold circling arrow, showing the next step in the cycle, points to the right and above the drawing of the small (Interfloral phase) fig. It points to a drawing of larger, more mature figs, one cut in cross-section. Caption reads: Male phase figs, which will ripen after release of wasps and become attractive to frugivores for seed dispersal. Two arrows point away from the male phase figs to drawings of fig wasps.
  8. The top arrow points to a drawing of a female fig wasp in the upper right of the image. Caption reads: Pollinator female Courtella wardi. On leaving the natal fig, she homes in on volatiles release by receptive figs on other trees.
  9. The bottom arrow points to a drawing of a male fig wasp. Caption reads: Pollinator male Courtella wardi. After mating with females, males chew an exit hole through the fig wall, allowing pollen laden females to escape from the fig cavity.
  10. A bold circling arrow completes the cycle pointing to the left to the drawing of the fig stem, leaves, and young fruit.

Illustration copyright Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of Cape Town).