Leaf Mimicry in a Climbing Plant Protects against Herbivory

Gianoli, E. and Carrasco-Urra, F. (2014) Leaf Mimicry in a Climbing Plant Protects against Herbivory. Current Biology, 24 (9). pp. 984-987.

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Mimicry refers to adaptive similarity between a mimic organism and a model. Mimicry in animals is rather common, whereas documented cases in plants are rare, and the associated benefits are seldom elucidated [1 and 2]. We show the occurrence of leaf mimicry in a climbing plant endemic to a temperate rainforest. The woody vine Boquila trifoliolata mimics the leaves of its supporting trees in terms of size, shape, color, orientation, petiole length, and/or tip spininess. Moreover, sequential leaf mimicry occurs when a single individual vine is associated with different tree species. Leaves of unsupported vines differed from leaves of climbing plants closely associated with tree foliage but did not differ from those of vines climbing onto leafless trunks. Consistent with an herbivory-avoidance hypothesis, leaf herbivory on unsupported vines was greater than that on vines climbing on trees but was greatest on vines climbing onto leafless trunks. Thus, B. trifoliolata gains protection against herbivory not merely by climbing and thus avoiding ground herbivores [ 3] but also by climbing onto trees whose leaves are mimicked. Unlike earlier cases of plant mimicry or crypsis, in which the plant roughly resembles a background or color pattern [ 4, 5, 6 and 7] or mimics a single host [ 8 and 9], B. trifoliolata is able to mimic several hosts.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This study was supported by FONDECYT (Chilean Agency of Research Fund) grant 1100585 to E.G. We are grateful to A. Saldan˜ a, C. Salgado- Luarte, O. Godoy, M. Cisternas, and D. Gianoli for their help in the field and their contribution of pictures. We thank K.C. Burns and three anonymous reviewers for thoughtful comments that improved the manuscript and CONAF (Chilean Agency of Protected Areas) for granting us permits to work in Puyehue National Park.
Author Affiliation: Departamento de Biología, Universidad de La Serena, Casilla 554, La Serena, Chile
Subjects: Crop Improvement
Divisions: General
Depositing User: Mr T L Gautham
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2014 09:16
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2014 09:16
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2014.03.010
URI: http://eprints.icrisat.ac.in/id/eprint/13181

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