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Anais da Sociedade Entomológica do Brasil

Print version ISSN 0301-8059On-line version ISSN 1981-5328


OLIVEIRA, Paulo S.  and  PIE, Marcio R.. Interaction between ants and plants bearing extrafloral nectaries in cerrado vegetation. An. Soc. Entomol. Bras. [online]. 1998, vol.27, n.2, pp.161-176. ISSN 0301-8059.

Extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) are nectar-secreting glands not directly involved with pollination which may occur on virtually all above-ground plant parts of angiosperms. Recent studies revealed that such glands are widely distributed amongst the woody flora of the Brazilian cerrados. Plants bearing EFNs are visited day and night by a diverse assemblage of nectarivorous ants. In this review we present the data gathered during the past 15 years on the interaction between ants and EFN-bearing plants in cerrado vegetation. Field experiments indicate that ants visiting EFNs may prey or attack insect herbivores on the plant foliage, significantly reducing herbivore damage to leaves, buds or flowers. As a response, some herbivore species have developed an array of mechanisms to circumvent the ants' deterring capacities on their host plants. Ant-derived benefits to plants, however, may vary with the species of visiting ant, with the defensive tactics of the associated herbivores, as well as with the plant species. We discuss the results obtained for different cerrado plant species, and suggest some promising topics for future experimental investigation.

Keywords : Insecta; Hymenoptera; herbivory; mutualism; predation.

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