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Oak Gall Wasp Mechanism

  1. Oct 24, 2016 #1
    How does the Gall Wasp get an Oak tree to make these?

    I am not able to find anything other than "induced by chemicals secreted by the wasp" more or less. I have been looking at these over the last six months. They seem to be manipulations of the tree's leaf growth mechanism to make an incubator - Is it interfering at the genetic level? The galls receive/steal nutrient from the tree in a way that seems similar to a cancer. Is it in effect an intentionally induced and controlled tumor that an insect has evolved specifically tuned to control the growth mechanism of a form of life from an entirely different kingdom? Do we understand this chemistry? I collected these in the woods near home - cut a couple open to see the larval wasp. The large brown ones are mature the wasp exited through a little pin hole. I mean wtf? The structure in them is amazing. Totally different geometric path compared to a leaf.

    IMG_1152.JPG IMG_1153.JPG
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2016 #2

    jim mcnamara

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    Staff: Mentor

    Google Agrobacterium tumifaciens - it is a bacterium that induces local cells to produce auxins and cytokinins - out of place. Normally the plant hormones control new tissue differentiation. Tissue differentiation gets completely screwed up by the wrong timing and amounts of the hormones. So what should you expect would be the chemicals excreted by the wasp? Chemicals that imitate or are identical to the plant hormones.

    They interfere with cell division/cell differentiation.

    Look up witches broom - it is both timely (Halloweeen) and very interesting. Most galls and other wierdnesses on hardwood tree species are the result of anomalous growth. In this case a virus is the bad guy.

    Last edited: Oct 24, 2016
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