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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Plant to caterpillar: Leaf me alone

Arabidopsis thaliana  (Photo by Roepers)
Although leafy green plants might not be able to speak, they sure have a way of warning hungry caterpillars to lay off.

Ashley Feinberg of Gizmodo reports on plant research from the University of Missouri-Columbia.  These researchers have discovered that “plants respond to the specific sounds caterpillars make when eating them,” and that these chomping noises “even prompt the plants into putting up additional defenses.”

Scientists measured the movements of Arabidopsis (“a small cabbage-like plant”) in response to a caterpillar that was nibbling at its leaves.  The researchers then recorded the sound of this chewing critter and played it back to the plant after the caterpillar was gone.

The Arabidopsis responded to the recorded sound as if the caterpillar were actually still present.  The plant then produced additional mustard oil in order to fend off the perceived attack.

We always knew that corn has ears.  This research indicates that other plants may also...


Copyright July 13, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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