We often think of plants as living beings who love peace, who passively sit and wait for some caterpillar to eat them, but this picture can not be applied to some plants – namely, certain plant species have developed incredibly intelligent and A wicked way of solving their hereditary enemies.
New research has shown that some plants are avoided to be eaten by boring botanists – they force them to cannibalism. The study, published in the journal Nature of Ecology and Evolution shows that tomato plants ( Lycopersicon lycopersicum ) produce defense chemicals that promote the type of caterpillar, karadrin ( Spodoptera exigua , To eat their members.
When caterpillars begin to feed plant leaves, they release an organic compound called methyl jasmonate. This chemical makes the plant extremely uncomfortable, and forces them to resort to cannibalism to enable further food intake.
"For many insects, it is known to become cannabis when the situation is tough," said Professor John Orrock. "From the perspective of the plant, this is a pretty good outcome, turning the herbivores one against each other. The cannibals not only use plants to feed herbivores, but cannibals do not have so much appetite for plant material, probably because they are already full of eating other caterpillars. "
Methyl jasmonate has another effect. When the plant rises, it acts like a siren for the neighboring plants, warning them of being the enemies at the door. It encourages other plants to invest in their own defense and begin to produce their own supplies of methyl jasmonate.
It might seem strange that caterpillars can turn so fast against their own rows and become cannabis, but as scientists explain, cannibalism is a twin sword that can be surprisingly useful when the condition is difficult.
"The eaten cannibals have basically found the perfect meal," said associate professor Bret Elderd in a statement. "If I'm a cannibal, my prey has all the protein ratios and micronutrients I need because he's really me. The disadvantage, however, is that my victim is also the perfect host for any set of pathogens or parasites that would be nourished for me. The thought here is that I should not be a cannibalist because there is a high likelihood that I will be infected with certain diseases if I are fed with the organism of my species. "
In this light, researchers now want to find out whether this cannibalism between insects helps or hinders the spread of pathogens. If it helps, the defensive mechanism of the plant may prove to be even more effective than we ever thought.