Foliar nectar can enhance plant-mite mutualisms

  • 208
  • 8
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    216
    Shares

Mite domatia are small structures on the underside of plant leaves that house predacious or fungivorous mites, thereby mediating a plant-mite defence mutualism. It has been suggested that plants benefit more from domatia-dwelling mites when they offer them supplementary food in the form of extrafloral nectar secreted from leaves.

Vitis munsoniana (left) and V. riparia (right) leaves with foliar sugar solution treatments
Vitis munsoniana (left) and V. riparia (right) leaves with foliar sugar solution treatments (black arrows are pointing towards experimental sugar solution drops). The magnified portion shows examples of domatia occurring at vein axils. Domatia occur at many of the vein axils across the leaves.

Weber et al. tested this hypothesis by experimentally adding nectar to the leaves of two species of wild grape. They find that foliar nectar can enhance plant-mite mutualisms by increasing the number of mites found inhabiting domatia, which in turn decreased powdery mildew load on the leaf surface. The authors pair their experiments with a survey of the distribution of domatia and extrafloral nectar across the plant tree of life, and show that these two interesting mutualistic traits frequently occur in the same clades.

Reference

Marjorie G. Weber, Laura D. Porturas, Scott A. Taylor, 2016, 'Foliar nectar enhances plant–mite mutualisms: the effect of leaf sugar on the control of powdery mildew by domatia-inhabiting mites', Annals of Botany, vol. 118, no. 3, pp. 459-466 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcw118


  • 208
  • 8
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    216
    Shares