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  • 8/30/2010

Study finds plants send SOS signals

study finds plants send sos signals

Scientists have found that when certain plants are attacked by a caterpillar; they send SOS signals, calling predator insects for help.

The findings came from a research made by scientists from Dutch and German institutes who studied chemicals produced by tobacco leaves, the BBC reports.

It has already been known that when tobacco plants are injured, they produce chemicals called "green leaf volatiles (GLV)."

However, the recent study suggests that when hornworm caterpillars (Manduca sexta) start munching up the plant's leaves, the saliva from the insects changes the GLV.

The modified signal allows other nearby insects such as big-eyed Geocoris to find the feeding caterpillar and eat it, protecting the victim plant.

The chemical released by the plant is believed to send a very clear message to caterpillar’s natural enemies. It is, however, produced as late as one day after the caterpillar attack, the Scientific American reports.

"Why the [caterpillar] larvae would produce such an apparently [disadvantageous chemical] in their saliva remains to be determined," the researchers said in their journal paper.

The "chemical SOS" is believed to be an indirect means of defense among many direct defenses such as thorns, slippery leaves, lethal toxins and irritating resins.

Source: presstv.ir

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