Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Surface composition of myrmecophilic plants: cuticular wax and glandular trichomes on leaves of Macaranga tanarius.

Abstract

Primary plant surfaces, covered with cuticles consisting of cutin and waxes, are important substrates for interaction with insects. The composition of leaf surfaces of the myrmecophilic plant Macaranga tanarius was studied. The prenylated flavanone nymphaeol-C was identified in surface extracts and was localized exclusively in glandular trichomes on the abaxial leaf side. The epidermal pavement cells surrounding these trichomes were covered with a smooth film of epicuticular wax from which few small wax crystals protruded. The epicuticular wax amounted to approximately 8 µg cm-2, corresponding to 85% of the wax load on the adaxial as well as the abaxial leaf sides. The epicuticular wax mixtures from both leaf surfaces contained more than 70% primary alcohols, 14% fatty acids, 2% aldehydes, and traces of alkyl acetates, with chain lengths ranging from C20 to C38. In contrast, the intracuticular wax layer was largely dominated by triterpenoid alcohols α-amyrin, β-amyrin, and lupeol. Consequently, these characteristic compounds are not available for direct contact with insects on the plant surface.