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Old 09-13-2010, 05:33 PM   #11
A Bee's Best Friend
 
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Chicago Illinois USA
Default Pollination wanted, but no oviposition

More information on the ways a plant might use defence against leaf munching caterpillars while using scent to achieve pollination.

Tobacco plant thwarts caterpillar onslaught by opening flowers in the morning


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Butterflies and moths are welcome visitors to many plant species. Plants attract insect pollinators with the colors, forms, nectars and scents of their flowers to ensure fertilization and reproduction. However, female moths are also threatening to the plant: Once attracted by the flower's scent, they lay their eggs on the green leaves, and shortly voracious young caterpillars hatch. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology have now discovered how tobacco plants successfully solve this dilemma.
Quote:
Ecologists had already noticed that female moths attracted for pollination laid their eggs, and shortly leaf-eating larvae hatched to feed on the same plant. The scientists considered whether plants would actually submit without reserve to this life-threatening disadvantage -- just for pollination. They intensively studied the remarkable morning-opening flowers (MoF) which were only produced by plants that had been attacked by insect larvae and compared them to the usually occurring night-opening flowers (NoF). The first experiment already revealed an astounding result: MoF did not emit the attractant benzyl acetone anymore (see also Kessler et al., Science 321, 2008) and also the sugar concentration in the floral nectar was considerably reduced. Furthermore, it was striking that the petals of MoF only opened to a third of the size of NoF. All in all, the MoF were rendered literally unnoticeable by the moths -- however, they may become interesting for different pollinators living nearby the field station: hummingbirds.
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