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Heroslodge Forum / Politics / Plants Can Turn Caterpillars Into Cannibals to Avoid Getting Eaten (1 Post | 221 Views)
Plants Can Turn Caterpillars Into Cannibals to Avoid Getting Eaten by Noblex: 10:55 am On Jul 11, 2017
A new study published in the _Nature Ecology and Evolution_ journal found that when some plants are under attack from hungry herbivores, they emit defences that make themselves incredibly foul-tasting to caterpillars, which spurs the caterpillars to eat each other.
Orrock and his research team sprayed tomato plants with methyl jasmonate—a substance plants produce in response to environmental stresses—to trigger the plants’ defence mechanisms. This chemical allowed the plant to change its chemistry, which made it less appetising to the beet armyworm caterpillars that were placed on a treated plant.
This phenomenon has been documented in a variety of plants, and research has suggested that plants can sense when surrounding plants are under attack, which can spur the production of methyl jasmonate in entire communities of plants.
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