Cecropia tree - Mullerian Bodies

photograph © Alex Wild 2007

The egg-like structures at the base of this Cecropia leaf are Mullerian bodies, rich in lipids and glycogen, that serve as food to the ants that live in the Cecropia trees.  The trees gain protection from herbivores in exchange for providing food and shelter to the ants.

Panamá: Canal Zone. Gamboa.
9.1177ºN 79.6959ºW 50m
vii.2007 Secondary forest edge.

This image is copyrighted by the photographer and cannot be used without permission. To obtain permission to use this image, please email Alex Wild. (alwild (at)  Most of the photographs on are reduced from their original size and compressed for more efficient web transmission.  In some cases, higher quality versions are available.

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 20D, using a Canon 17-40mm f4.0 wide-angle lens.