FEB 28, 2017 3:06 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
NOV 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
NOV 07, 2020
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
Scientists have identified a burst of cosmic radio waves- intense flashes of radio emission that last just a few millise ...
NOV 19, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Unlocking the Secret of a Tasty Cold Drink
NOV 19, 2020
Unlocking the Secret of a Tasty Cold Drink
Sour beer isn't for everyone: its unique taste of acidity and tartness could excite some but turn off others.  ...
NOV 24, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Want to Keep Calm? Tap Water Might Help
NOV 24, 2020
Want to Keep Calm? Tap Water Might Help
The ongoing worldwide pandemic places the mental health of many communities on red alert. But there may be a remedy to e ...
FEB 06, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Why Does Saturn Tilt?
FEB 06, 2021
Why Does Saturn Tilt?
Two scientists from France have figured out why Saturn sits at a tilt. And they say that over the next few billion years ...
FEB 10, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Do Salt and Melting Ice Cause Landslides on Mars?
FEB 10, 2021
Do Salt and Melting Ice Cause Landslides on Mars?
Recurrent slope lineae (RSL) are dark flows that extend downhill on Mars to form sandy patterns on its surface. Research ...
JUL 03, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Size of Planet Iron Core Depends on Star Magnetism
JUL 03, 2021
Size of Planet Iron Core Depends on Star Magnetism
Researchers led by the University of Maryland have found that the sun's magnetic field is the reason behind the larg ...
Loading Comments...