Mechanical defenses of plant extrafloral nectaries against herbivory

Moshe Gish, Mark C. Mescher, Consuelo M. De Moraes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunicative and Integrative Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC, Moshe Gish, Mark C. Mescher, and Consuelo M. De Moraes.


  • calcium oxalate
  • herbivory
  • mechanical defense
  • phytoliths
  • plant defense
  • quantitative defenses
  • rigidity
  • stiffness
  • symbiosis
  • toughness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Mechanical defenses of plant extrafloral nectaries against herbivory'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this