Extrafloral nectaries play an important role in plant defense against herbivores by providing nectar rewards that attract ants and other carnivorous insects. However, extrafloral nectaries can themselves be targets of herbivory, in addition to being exploited by nectar-robbing insects that do not provide defensive services. We recently found that the extrafloral nectaries of Vicia faba plants, as well as immediately adjacent tissues, exhibit high concentrations of chemical toxins, apparently as a defense against herbivory. Here we report that the nectary tissues of this plant also exhibit high levels of structural stiffness compared to surrounding tissues, likely due to cell wall lignification and the concentration of calcium oxalate crystals in nectary tissues, which may provide an additional deterrent to herbivore feeding on nectary tissues.
- calcium oxalate
- mechanical defense
- plant defense
- quantitative defenses
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)