Thursday, February 23, 2006

 

Plants 'eavesdrop' for their own protection, Cornell researchers find

Eavesdropping plants: "Insect-damaged sagebrush has a novel way of broadcasting to nearby plants that a predator is in the area: It releases a bouquet of airborne odors and perfumes.

If wild tobacco is growing nearby, it will 'eavesdrop' on these chemical signals, and in response, fortify its defenses against such plant-eaters as caterpillars.

In a study published in a recent issue of Oecologia, Cornell University researchers say they have found that the release of chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from a wounded sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) primes the defenses of wild tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata) to prepare for herbivore attacks of its own."

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