Extrafloral nectaries: a defense against ant-Homoptera mutualisms?

J. X.I. Becerra, D. L. Venable

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

87 Scopus citations

Abstract

Extrafloral nectaries may sometimes function to defend plants from ant-Homoptera mutualisms by weaning ants onto a plant-controlled diet of nectar. Extrafloral nectaries can be favored even in the absence of ant defensive behavior. Many studies have shown no net, defensive benefit to plants of nectar feeding ants. Many nectar-feeding ants tend Homoptera which are major plant disease agents and which may profoundly alter plant architecture and physiology. Ants can be distracted from tending Homoptera by feeding them sugar and they may even destroy the Homoptera. Nectar has very similar chemical composition to honeydew and its collection does not require the extensive husbandry that tending Homoptera does. Nectary production increases during infestations of Homoptera. It is more difficult to produce chemical defenses against sap feeders than against chewing insects. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-280
Number of pages5
JournalOikos
Volume55
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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