Books  Botany & Plant Science  Plants & Botany: Biology & Ecology 

Leaf Defence

  • Describes the natural history of leaf defence against both invertebrate and vertebrate attack, and incorporating insights from the field and laboratory
  • Starts with a broad, ecological approach before moving gradually towards the underlying molecular mechanisms that regulate the production of direct defences, and control the attraction of predatory organisms (indirect defences)
  • Clear and simple explanation of biochemical concepts aimed at a general and international readership
  • Incorporates a global range of dramatic examples and adopts an evolutionary perspective throughout the text

By: Edward E Farmer(Author)

224 pages, 8 plates with colour photos; b/w photos, b/w illustrations

Oxford University Press

Paperback | Jan 2016 | #225926 | ISBN-13: 9780198777830
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £24.99 $32/€27 approx
Hardback | May 2014 | #210164 | ISBN-13: 9780199671441
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £37.50 $48/€41 approx

About this book

Leaves are among the most abundant organs on earth and are a defining feature of most terrestrial ecosystems. However, a leaf is also a potential meal for a hungry animal and the question therefore arises, why does so much foliage survive in nature? What mechanisms protect leaves so that, on a global scale, only a relatively small proportion of living leaf material is consumed? Leaf survival is in large part due to two processes: firstly, leaf-eating organisms fall prey to predators (top-down pressure on the herbivore); secondly, leaves defend themselves (bottom-up pressure on the herbivore). Remarkably, these two types of event are often linked; they are controlled and coordinated by plants and the molecular mechanisms that underlie this are now beginning to emerge.

This novel text focuses exclusively on the leaf, on the herbivorous organisms that attack leaves, and the mechanisms that plants use to defend these vital organs. It begins with an assessment of the scale of herbivory, before examining direct physical and chemical defences on leaf surfaces and within the leaf itself. Although some leaf defences are easily seen, most operate at the molecular level and are therefore invisible to the naked eye. Many of these recently elucidated mechanisms are described. Throughout Leaf Defence, perspectives from both the laboratory and the field are combined. A central feature of the work is its emphasis on the coevolution of leaf defences and the digestive tracts of animals including humans, making Leaf Defence of relevance in understanding the role of leaf defences in agriculture.

Leaf Defence is suitable for senior undergraduate and graduate students taking courses in plant science, as well as a broader audience of biologists and biochemists seeking a comprehensive and authoritative overview of this exciting and emerging topic.

"An essential resource for graduate students and faculty and valuable for upper-division undergraduates."


1. Introduction: The leaf and the pressures it faces
2. Leaf colour patterning and leaf form
3. Structural defences and specialised defence cells
4. Chemical defences
5. Inducible defences and the jasmonate pathway
6. Top-down pressures and indirect defences
7. Release and escape from herbivory
8. Escape in space : The cliff trees of Socotra

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Edward E. Farmer a is professor in the Department of Plant Molecular Biology at the University of Lausanne where he leads an international research team focussed on understanding leaf defence mechanisms. His work has led to the discovery of mechanisms that allow leaves to respond to attack and also allow damaged tissues communicate their health status to other parts of the plant. Professor Farmer has travelled widely to study the defence features of plants in tropical, desert and mountain habitats and has also focussed attention on the often unique defence features of island floras.

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