Plants secrete extrafloral nectar (EFN) as an induced defense against herbivores. EFN contains not only carbohydrates and amino acids but also pathogenesis-related proteins and other protective enzymes, making EFN an exclusive reward. EFN secretion is commonly induced after wounding, likely owing to a jasmonic acid–induced cell wall invertase, and is limited by phloem sucrose availability: Both factors control EFN secretion according to the optimal defense hypothesis. Non-ant EFN consumers include parasitoids, wasps, spiders, mites, bugs, and predatory beetles. Little is known about the relevance of EFN to the nutrition of its consumers and, hence, to the structuring of arthropod communities. The mutualism can be established quickly among noncoevolved (e.g., invasive) species, indicating its easy assembly is due to ecological fitting. Therefore, increasing efforts are directed toward using EFN in biocontrol. However, documentation of the importance of EFN for the communities of plants and arthropods in natural, invasive, and agricultural ecosystems is still limited.


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