Calling All Predators: Caterpillar Saliva May Be a Component in Plants' Chemical Alarms

Thursday, August 26, 2010 - 20:21 in Biology & Nature

Plants have evolved many direct defenses against herbivores, such as thorns, slippery leaves, lethal toxins and irritating resins. But some plants also employ indirect defenses by releasing chemicals that attract the natural enemies of herbivores. When a caterpillar starts feasting on a tobacco plant, for example, the leaves waft volatile compounds that attract some predatory and parasitoid insects. These predators hunt the caterpillars and their eggs, which benefits the plant by reducing the number of its attackers. Now, researchers have uncovered a surprising secret of plants' chemical cries for help that could yield new ways to fight crop pests . [More] Tobacco - Insect - Predation - Caterpillar - Herbivore

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