Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 31, Issue 10, pp 2323–2341 | Cite as

Surface Composition of Myrmecophilic Plants: Cuticular Wax and Glandular Trichomes on Leaves of Macaranga tanarius

  • Ortwin Guhling
  • Christian Kinzler
  • Michael Dreyer
  • Gerhard Bringmann
  • Reinhard Jetter


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.

Key Words

Epicuticular wax leaf surface plant insect interactions glandular trichomes isoprenoids flavanones nymphaeol-C Macaranga tanarius 



The authors thank Markus Riederer (University of Würzburg, Department of Botany II) and Walter Federle (University of Würzburg, Department of Zoology II) for fruitful discussions. Technical assistance by staff of the Botanical Garden of the University of Würzburg is gratefully acknowledged. Wilfried Schwab and Daniel Abanda (University of Würzburg, Department of Food Chemistry) provided advice with the gland isolation protocols. This work was supported by the SFB 567 “Mechanisms of interspecific interactions of organisms” and by a grant from the Fonds der Chemischen Industrie to G.B.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ortwin Guhling
    • 1
  • Christian Kinzler
    • 1
  • Michael Dreyer
    • 2
  • Gerhard Bringmann
    • 2
  • Reinhard Jetter
    • 3
  1. 1.Julius-von-Sachs Institut für BiowissenschaftenUniversität WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  2. 2.Institut für Organische ChemieUniversität WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of Botany and Department of ChemistryUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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