During the evolution of terrestrial plants, many protective strategies have emerged, guaranteeing the survival of plants in the most varied environments. Among these strategies, we highlight the chemical defense of plants given by secretory structures, such as laticifers and secretory ducts. These glands are responsible for the production of viscous exudates that can be toxic, deterrent or repellent to herbivores, in addition to acting against microorganisms and sealing wounds. The similarities between latex and resin produced by certain ducts led several researchers to misinterpret their characteristics and generated a great number of divergences in the literature. This chapter aims to review the similarities and differences between laticifers and ducts and to demonstrate the structure, secretory activity and chemical composition of the secretion of each one, as well as the evolutionary and ecological aspects that can be associated with the high rate of survival and diversification of the plants that contain laticifers and/or ducts.
Part of the book: Ecosystem Services and Global Ecology