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Morphological characterization of extrafloral nectaries in Brazilian Amazonian plant species

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Miranda, PN; Ribeiro, JELD; Aguirre-Jaimes, A; Brasil, I; Dattilo, W

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2024

ACTA BOTANICA MEXICANA

131

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Background and Aims: Extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) are secretory glands of an aqueous solution composed mainly of sugars, amino acids and lipids, frequently used as food resource by ants, which tend to protect their host plants against herbivorous insects. Although the Amazon forest is recognized worldwide for its high plant diversity, few studies have been carried out in the region that characterize the different morphotypes of EFNs. In this context, our main aim was to perform a brief morphological description of EFNs in the Brazilian Amazonian rainforest. Methods: We established a plot of 6250 m2 in ten forest fragments situated in the state of Acre, Brazilian Amazon. In these plots, we performed intensive field surveys to locate EFN-bearing plant species. Subsequently, we used scanning electron microscopy images to morphologically characterize the EFNs. The morphological descriptions included information about the life form of EFN-bearing plant species, morphotypes of EFNs and their location in different plant structures. Key results: We morphologically characterized 67 EFN-bearing plant species, distributed in 28 genera and 19 families. The botanical families with the highest taxonomic representativeness were Fabaceae, Bignoniaceae and Malpighiaceae. Lianas were the life form with the largest number of EFN-bearing plant species, while elevated EFNs were the most frequent morphotype. Conclusions: The high frequency of elevated EFNs evidences the importance of the ant defense system against herbivory in these Brazilian Amazonian forests, since it has been documented in others works that this morphotype secretes a larger nectar volume, which is an advantage in relation to the attraction potential. Finally, our results indicate the existence of a high diversity of EFN-bearing plant species in this region of the Brazilian Amazon, and an important morphological diversity of associated extrafloral nectaries.

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