FEB 28, 2017 03:06 PM PST

Self-Defense in Plants Involve Smelly Chemicals

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
4 5 163

Unlike animals and humans, plants are literally rooted to the ground. This means that they have fewer options of defending themselves against unwanted attacks that threaten their survival. But, just because they can't move doesn't mean plants aren't equipped to handle predators.

Some plants secrete chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These can either attract animals, such as the case of many flowers, or they can be noxious and repel insects. Furthermore, some plants have the capacity to modulate the levels of VOCs as necessary for their survival. For example, researchers found that the turnip rape activates floral VOCs to attract pollinators when this plant is flowering. However, if the plant is infested with caterpillars, it will switch the VOCs to detract bees, and instead attract parasitic wasps that will kill the caterpillars.

Such example demonstrates the biological complexity of plants and the ingenious ways they've evolved to defend themselves. Watch the video to learn more!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 09, 2018
Videos
JUL 09, 2018
How Spiders Use Electricity To Fly
Spider rains, or ballooning spiders, are a natural phenomenon believed by scientists to be caused by the silken threads of these unique insects that genera
JUL 17, 2018
Videos
JUL 17, 2018
Encouraging Progress on HIV Vaccine
In the quest to find a vaccine against HIV which causes AIDS, most attempts have failed. The HIV epidemic began about 35 years ago and in that time only fi
JUL 23, 2018
Videos
JUL 23, 2018
Is your commute harming your health?
How far do you commute every day? According to US Census data, the average daily commute...
JUL 27, 2018
Videos
JUL 27, 2018
Ever Wonder Why the Moon Turns Red During A Lunar Eclipse?
Lunar eclipses can be fun to observe, but have you ever wondered why the Moon turns red during the event? As it turns out, this red Moon phenomenon, also k
AUG 04, 2018
Videos
AUG 04, 2018
A Radical New Approach to Treating Neurodegeneration
The pathways that neural impulses travel can't be retrieved once they're lost... or can they?
AUG 08, 2018
Videos
AUG 08, 2018
The Basics of Genetics
Get the lowdown on some basic concepts in genetics, and learn how the field got its start.
Loading Comments...