J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2008, Vol. 50 ›› Issue (6): 653-658.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2008.00664.x

Special Issue: Ecology and Global Changes

• Bioenergy Plants • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Soral Crypsis: Protective Mimicry of a Coccid on an Indian Fern

Biplab Patra, Subir Bera and R. James Hickey   

  • Received:2007-04-20 Accepted:2007-09-29

Abstract: Herbivory with crypsis is not well documented in ferns. The present record of cryptic coloration of coccid Saissetia filicum Boisduval (Homoptera: Coccidae) to the sori of a fern species Asplenium nidus L. (Aspleniaceae) is unique. Predatory beetles (Jauravia sp., Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) that feed on the coccids, are suggested to be selective pressure for the development of the present homopteran soral crypsis. A higher rate of effective predation is noticed in the vegetative leaves than the fertile leaves. Aggressive ants were found harvesting honeydew secretions from the coccids and defending the trophobionts as well as the host fern from their natural enemies. In addition, a possible three-way mutualistic relationship among the coccids, its host fern and the tending ant is suggested. Differential number of coccids on vegetative and fertile leaves is correlated with their phenol content and degree of predation by beetle. Such coloration mimicry by the coccids may enable them to obtain the necessary blend of sorus of the host fern needed to evade beetle detection and attack.

Key words: Asplenium nidus, India, coccid, coloration mimicry, soral crypsis

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