The number of currently known, described and accepted plant species is ca 374,000, of which approximately 295,00 (79%) are angiosperms. Almost 90% of this huge number of flowering plants is pollinated by animals (mostly insects) via nectar-mediated interactions. Notably, three-fourths of the leading global crop plants produce nectar and are animal pollinated, which is estimated to account for one-third of human food resources. Nectar can also be produced on tissues outside of flowers, by so-called extrafloral nectaries, and commonly mediate interactions with ‘body-guard’ ants and other pugnacious insects that defend the plant from herbivores. Extrafloral nectar is present in almost 4,000 plant species, a majority of them in the angiosperms. This brief summary on the occurrence of nectar in the plant kingdom is just to highlight that nectar has a fundamental role in two basal functions that allow the maintenance of our ecosystems: sexual plant reproduction and protection of plants from herbivory. Despite playing essential ecological and evolutionary functions, our current knowledge about nectar is largely incomplete; however, new research directions and perspectives on nectaries and nectars have arisen in recent years. In the last two decades, there were only a few ‘moments’ in which nectar was the main character in international meetings or in published books. In 2002, the first (and only) international meeting “Nectar and nectary: from biology to biotechnology” dedicated exclusively to nectar and nectaries was held in Italy (Montalcino, Siena) and in 2003 the proceedings were published in a special volume of Plant Systematics and Evolution (238, issue 1-4). In 2007, the book Nectar and Nectaries was published (Springer) with most of the contributions provided by authors that attended the meeting in Italy. Another book dedicated to nectar was published in 2015 (Nectar: Production, Chemical Composition and Benefits to Animals and Plants, Nova Science Publishers) covering aspects mainly related to nectar chemical composition and plant-pollinator interactions. Similarly, symposia focused on nectar have been organized within the International Botanical Congress in 2011 and 2017. Considering that the last few years has yielded essential developments in the understanding of nectar biology, we thought now is the moment to further stimulate research on this important topic. This aim has been met through 18 papers published in our Research Topic New Perspectives on the Biology of Nectaries and Nectars, with subjects spanning evolution and ecology to nectar chemistry and nectary structure.
Nectar is the most important reward offered by plants to pollinating animals. This book is a modern and interdisciplinary text on nectar and nectaries, prompted by the expansion of knowledge in ecological and molecular fields, and the strong recent interest in pollination biology. The topics covered vary widely: they include historical aspects, the structure and ultrastructure of nectaries and relationships to plant systematics, the dynamics of nectar secretion, nectar chemistry and the molecular biology of defence proteins, and more.
The view of nature as `red in tooth and claw', as a jungle in which competition and predation are the predominant themes, has long been important in both the scientific and popular literature. However, in the past decade another view has become widespread among ecologists: the idea that mutualisms--mutually beneficial interactions between species--are just as important as competition and predation. This book is one of the first to explore this theme. Ideas and theories applicable to all sorts of mutualisms are presented and, where appropriate, examined in the light of concrete data. Themes explored include: the organisms involved, both animal and plant; how specializations evolved once mutualisms formed; how mutualisms affect population dynamics and community structure; and the role of mutualisms in different environments. The book will be of special interest to ecologists and a wide range of biologists.
Secretions and emissions in biological systems play important signaling roles within the organism but also in its communications with the surrounding environment. This volume brings together state-of-the-art information on the role of secretions and emissions in different organs and organisms ranging from flowers and roots of plants to nematodes and human organs. The plant chapters relate information regarding the biochemistry of flower volatiles and root exudates, and their role in attracting pollinators and soil microbial communities respectively. Microbial chapters explain the biochemistry and ecology of quorum sensing and how microbial communities highly co-adapted to plants can aid in bio-energy applications by degrading ligno-cellulosic materials. Other chapters explain the biology of secretions by nematodes, algae and humans, among other organisms. This volume will be a welcome addition to the literature, as no other book covers aspects related to biological secretion in such a holistic and integrative manner.
In Butterfly Biology Systems Roger Dennis explores key topics and contentious issues in butterfly biology, specifically those in life history and behaviour. Uniquely, using a systems approach, the book focuses on the degree of integration and feedback between components and elements affecting each issue, as well as the links between different issues. The book comprises four sections. The first two sections introduce the reader to principles and approaches for investigating complex relationships, and provide a platform of knowledge on butterfly biology. The final two sections deal in turn with life history and behaviour, covering key issues affecting different stages of development from eggs to adults.
This is the fourth volume of a series devoted to providing a comprehensive review of the study of plant-eating insects, covering topics ranging from biochemistry to ecology and evolution. Volume IV examines the status of mutualism, using the fig-insect interaction; phytosterols as important components of adaptive syndromes in herbivorous insects; methods utilized by plant-eating insects to detect compounds that deter feeding, including the various codes and how and why they vary; and the nature and significance of extrafloral nectaries in plants. The book also covers the varied roles of quinolizidines in plants, in addition to reviewing the controversial arena of plant stress and insect performance. Insect-Plant Interactions, Volume IV, is an important reference work for entomologists, zoologists, ecologists, and other scientists involved in studies with insect-plant interactions.