Journal Article

Anatomy, Ultrastructure and Chemical Composition of Food Bodies of <i>Hovenia dulcis</i> (Rhamnaceae)

Rafael Andrade Buono, Alaíde Braga de Oliveira and Elder Antonio Sousa Paiva

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 101, issue 9, pages 1341-1348
Published in print June 2008 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online April 2008 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcn052
Anatomy, Ultrastructure and Chemical Composition of Food Bodies of Hovenia dulcis (Rhamnaceae)

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

Food bodies (FBs) are structures that promote mutualism between plants and ants, which help protect them against herbivores. The present study aims to describe the anatomical organization, ultrastructure and chemical composition of the FBs in Hovenia dulcis, which represent the first structures of this type described in Rhamnaceae.

Methods

Leaves in various stages of development were collected and fixed for examination under light, transmission and scanning electron microscopy. Samples of FBs were subjected to chemical analysis using thin-layer chromatography and nuclear magnetic resonance of 1H and 13C.

Key Results

The FBs vary from globose to conical and are restricted to the abaxial leaf surface, having a mixed origin, including epidermis and parenchyma. The FB epidermis is uniseriate, slightly pilose and has a thin cuticle. The epidermal cells are vacuolated and pigments or food reserves are absent. The parenchyma cells of immature FBs have dense cytoplasm showing mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum and plastids. Mature FB cells store oils, which are free in the cytosol and occupy a large portion of the cell lumen. In these cells the plastids accumulate starch.

Conclusions

The lipids present in FBs are glycerin esters characteristic of plant energy reserves. Ants were observed collecting these FBs, which allows us to infer that these structures mediate plant–ant interactions and can help protect the young plants against herbivores, as these structures are prevalent at this developmental stage.

Keywords: Ant–plant interactions; cell ultrastructure; food body; Hovenia dulcis; lipid; myrmecophily; Rhamnaceae

Journal Article.  4194 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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