Mini review


, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 64-68

The geographical distribution of plant latex

  • Thomas M. LewinsohnAffiliated withLaboratório de Interações Insetos/Plantas, Departamento Zoologia, UNICAMPNERC Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College

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Latex is a widespread defence in plants against natural enemies and a literature-based summary of latex-producing angiosperms shows records in 40 families, and more than 20,000 species are estimated to bear laticiferous structures of some kind. This is considerably higher than the usually quoted figure of 12,500 species. There are more tropical than temperate latex-bearing families, both in absolute numbers and proportionally. Proportions of latex-bearing families are similar both in tropical and in more widespread or cosmopolitan families. Significantly more latex-bearing species belong to tropical than either to temperate or to widespread taxa, both in absolute and in relative terms. These differences may be related to the higher diversity of natural enemy species and to higher rates of herbivory in the tropics.

Key words

latex plant defence antiherbivore defence ecogeography latitudinal gradient laticifers