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The function of extrafloral nectaries in opuntia acanthocarpa cactaceae






American Journal of Botany 66(6): 618-625

The function of extrafloral nectaries in opuntia acanthocarpa cactaceae

O. acanthocarpa (Cactaceae) possesses extrafloral nectaries embedded in the areoles of new reproductive and vegetative growth. The nectar secreted by these glands attracts ants and is a nutritional food source. Members of 1 attracted ant species, Crematogaster opuntiae (Myrmicinae), are aggressive and efficient defenders of the plants against cactus-feeding insects. The ant-guard hypothesis for the role of extrafloral nectaries in O. acanthocarpa was supported. Additionally, individuals of O. acanthocarpa are well-protected in comparison with those of O. phaeacantha. The latter generally possess ephemeral extrafloral nectaries and consistently maintain fewer ants.

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Accession: 006680366

DOI: 10.2307/2442406



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