Plant guttation provides nutrient-rich food for insects
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Cita bibliográficaUrbaneja-Bernat, P., Tena, A., González-Cabrera, J., Rodriguez-Saona, C. (2020) Plant guttation provides nutrient-rich food for insects. Proc. R. Soc. B 287: 20201080
Plant guttation is a fluid from xylem and phloem sap secreted at the margins of leaves frommany plant species. All previous studies have considered guttation as awater source for insects. Here,we hypothesized that plant guttation serves as a reliable and nutrient-rich food source for insects with effects on their communities. Using highbush blueberries as a study system, we demonstrate that guttation droplets contain carbohydrates and proteins. Insects fromthree feeding lifestyles, a herbivore, a parasitic wasp and a predator, increased their longevity and fecundity when fed on these guttation droplets compared to those fed on control water. Our results also show that guttation droplets, unlike nectar, are present on leaves during the entire growing season and are visited by numerous insects of different orders. In exclusion-field experiments, the presence of guttation modified the insect community by increasing the number of predators and parasitic wasps that visited the plants. Overall, our results demonstrate that plant guttation is highly reliable, compared to other plant-derived food sources such as nectar, and that it increases the communities and fitness of insects. Therefore, guttation represents an important plant trait with profound implications on multi-trophic insect–plant interactions.