FEB 28, 2017 03:06 PM PST

Self-Defense in Plants Involve Smelly Chemicals

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

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
SEP 15, 2018
Videos
SEP 15, 2018
A Hangover Cure in a Pill
A night of drinking can lead to a morning of regret for many people, but science is working on a solution for the physical pain....
SEP 18, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 18, 2018
When Will Earth Experience Another Chelyabinsk-Like Meteor Event?
In 2013, a notably-sized meteor exploded over the sky in Chelyabinsk, Russia. The shockwave from this event was so powerful that glass windows were shatter...
SEP 19, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 19, 2018
Here's How to Tell if Your Dog Actually Likes You
Good dog owners love their pet unconditionally, but how can you be sure that your dog loves you back? For some, the answer is obvious; but for those curiou...
SEP 24, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 24, 2018
Here's Why Goat Eyes Look Weird
Taking a closer look at a goat’s eyeball, you might notice that their pupils are elongated from side-to-side rather than round like a human’s;...
SEP 27, 2018
Videos
SEP 27, 2018
Finding Beauty in Parasitic Replication
The toxoplasma parasite uses mammalian cells to replicate, as seen in this incredible image....
OCT 10, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 10, 2018
OnSight Lets Scientists Study the Martian Surface with Virtual Reality
NASA’s Curiosity rover has been physically exploring the surface of Mars since 2012, but as it rolls along, it sends surface data back to scientists...
Loading Comments...