Comprehensive Examination at CES on 7 October 2020 at 3:00 pm titled "Resource allocation patterns and strategies in the mutualism between figs and fig wasps " by Manasa Kulkarni from CES, IISc
Mutualisms are omnipresent across all life-forms; from prokaryotes to higher organisms. In a mutualistic interaction, one or both the partners provide services to the other, in exchange for which they receive rewards. Lately, mutualisms have also been considered as consumer–resource interactions, where, a host receives some service from its partner and provide resources in exchange as rewards. Resources, hence can be regarded as a currency in the operation of mutualism and are therefore central to the working of most mutualisms. However, resource allocation within a mutualism has rarely been studied.
The Fig–Fig wasp interaction provides us with an excellent model system to study resource allocation in a mutualism. It is a typical example of an obligate brood-site pollination mutualism, wherein the pollinator wasps provide figs with pollination services in exchange for which the developing pollinator offspring receive nutrition.
I aim to look at the patterns and strategies of resource allocation in the mutualism between figs and fig wasps. First, I will look into the patterns of resource allocation across the developmental phases of figs, and to the different occupants of the figs. I will then look at how different factors like position of the syconium and different occupants within the fig, that also include parasites, can influence resource allocation. I will also look into another potential, but completely unexplored factor, i.e. photosynthesis rate of the figs, which can also influence the amount of nutrition a fig can acquire.