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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Trichomes and Insects

Author
item Shanower, Thomas

Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Entomology
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: December 16, 2003
Publication Date: April 1, 2004
Citation: Shanower, T.G. 2004. Trichomes and insects. Encyclopedia of Entomology. 3:232-2335.

Interpretive Summary: Trichomes, or plant hairs, are found on vegetative and reproductive structures in all higher plant families. Several factors, including light, temperature, moisture availability and soil conditions affect the development and expression of trichomes. Trichomes are either nonglandular or glandular, and both types are found in a variety of shapes and forms. Trichomes and insects interact in numerous ways. Trichomes on a number of plants have evolved a defensive function and may protect plants from insect herbivores. Plants are protected from insect feeding when trichomes form a chemical or physical barrier, preventing herbivores from reaching the surface. Trichomes may also provide a preferred oviposition site and/or may interfere with an insects movement on the plant surface. Both positive and negative interactions, from the insects point of view, have been documented. Generalizing about the role and function of trichomes and how these structures interact with insects is difficult because trichomes vary greatly across plant species and because the interactions may be specific or unique to the plant-insect association.

Technical Abstract: Trichomes, or plant hairs, are found on vegetative and reproductive structures in all higher plant families. Several factors, including light, temperature, moisture availability and soil conditions affect the development and expression of trichomes. Trichomes are either nonglandular or glandular, and both types are found in a variety of shapes and forms. Trichomes and insects interact in numerous ways. Trichomes on a number of plants have evolved a defensive function and may protect plants from insect herbivores. Plants are protected from insect feeding when trichomes form a chemical or physical barrier, preventing herbivores from reaching the surface. Trichomes may also provide a preferred oviposition site and/or may interfere with an insects movement on the plant surface. Both positive and negative interactions, from the insects point of view, have been documented. Generalizing about the role and function of trichomes and how these structures interact with insects is difficult because trichomes vary greatly across plant species and because the interactions may be specific or unique to the plant-insect association.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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