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Microb Ecol. 1999 Apr;37(3):163-172.

Leaf Barriers to Fungal Colonization and Shredders (Tipula lateralis) Consumption of Decomposing Eucalyptus globulus.

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Department of Zoology, University of Coimbra, 3000 Coimbra, Portugal


> Abstract Herein we assess the importance of leaf cuticle, polyphenolic, and essential oils contents of Eucalyptus globulus leaves to hyphomycete colonization and shredder consumption. Optical and electron microscopy revealed that, at least during the first 5 weeks of conditioning, the cuticle remains virtually intact. Stomata provide the main access for hyphae to internal leaf tissues and, eventually, for spore release. We suggest that in E. globulus leaves, fungal decomposition progresses predominantly in and from the eucalyptus leaf mesophyll to the outside. Malt extract agar media supplemented with either eucalyptus essential oils or tannic acid completely inhibited (Articulospora tetracladia, Lemonniera aquatica, and Tricladium gracile) or depressed (Heliscus lugdunensis, Lunulospora curvula, and Tricladium angulatum) aquatic hyphomycetes growth. The transference of both secondary compounds to alder leaves induced similar and significant reduction in Tipula lateralis larval consumption. Results consistently indicate that eucalyptus oils are stronger deterrents than polyphenols. The waxy cuticle of E. globulus appears to be a key physical factor delaying fungal colonization during decomposition. We hypothesize that the relative influence of leaf phenols and essential oils to aquatic hyphomycetes and shredders may be related to three main factors: (a) initial distribution of such compounds in the leaves; (b) possibility of their decrease through decomposition; and (c) consumption strategies of detritivores.

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