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Latest Herbivore Stories

2011-07-12 12:55:57

Mammal's breath gives aphids cue to drop from plants to safety As soon as aphids feeding on a plant sense the heat and humidity in a mammal's breath, they drop to safety before they are inadvertently ingested together with the plant the animal is feeding on. These findings by Moshe Gish and colleagues, from the University of Haifa in Israel, show both how accurate aphids are at detecting this threat and how effective their escape behavior is. The work was just published online in Springer's...

2011-06-20 23:52:09

LMU chemists design a route for synthesis of loline alkaloids LMU chemists led by Professor Dirk Trauner have developed a concise and efficient method for the synthesis of the alkaloid loline and related compounds. Loline alkaloids are a biologically interesting group of natural products, which have unusual physicochemical and pharmacological characteristics, but are as of yet poorly understood. They are produced by fungal symbionts that infect weeds and forage grasses, and act as deterrents...

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2011-04-26 10:18:02

A plant's sugary offering betrays caterpillars to predatory ants Trichomes, hair-like projections on leaves, are part of a plant's defense against herbivores: they can be obstacles, traps, or reservoirs for toxic substances. The hairs of wild tobacco Nicotiana attenuata contain primarily acyl sugars, which are composed of the common sugar, sucrose, bound to branched chain aliphatic acids, compounds that give baby vomit its distinctive odor. Tiny, freshly hatched caterpillars consume these...

2011-03-29 20:07:05

A study at Michigan State University has revealed a potential new way for plants to fend off pests "“ starvation. Gregg Howe, biochemistry and molecular biology professor, cites that this defense mechanism is just one example of a veritable evolutionary arms race between plants and herbivores. Howe, in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offers insights to understanding the chemical weaponry of this war, which could lead to new approaches to protect...

2011-03-03 23:25:47

U of C research shows that human activity displaces predators more than prey A new paper by University of Calgary researchers, published today in PLoS ONE, demonstrates the edge given to prey in the "space race" by human activity. The research was conducted by two University of Calgary students, a University of Calgary Post-Doctoral Fellow and two University of Calgary professors from the Faculty of Environmental Design, Department of Geomatics in the Schulich School of Engineering and the...

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2011-02-17 10:17:39

Rising carbon dioxide levels associated with global warming may affect interactions between plants and the insects that eat them, altering the course of plant evolution, research at the University of Michigan suggests. The research focused on the effects of elevated carbon dioxide on common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. Milkweed is one of many plants that produce toxic or bitter chemical compounds to protect themselves from being eaten by insects. These chemical defenses are the result of a...

2011-01-28 13:02:10

Plants are attacked by a multitude of insects and mammals. As defense against these herbivores they developed complex defense mechanisms over the course of evolution: spines, thorns, leaf hairs and a number of toxic chemical substances. For decades it has been controversially discussed whether the production of defense traits incurs costs to the plants. Now, using a new method the ecologists and plant biologists of the University of Zrich together with their American colleagues demonstrate...

2010-09-27 17:25:27

Nectar production in lima beans depends on light quality Flowering plants produce nectar to attract insect pollinators. Some plant species, such as Lima bean, also secrete nectar from so-called extrafloral nectaries to attract ants which in turn fend off herbivores. Scientists of the Max Planck Institute in Jena, Germany, have discovered that the production of extrafloral nectar is light dependent. They have shown that the plants are able not only to distinguish between day and night, but...

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2010-08-26 23:34:48

The dilemma for tobacco hornworm larvae: By feeding on tobacco leaves they unintentionally and rapidly transform plant substances into attractant signals that betray their location to their own natural enemies -- with lethal consequencesPlants have developed a sophisticated defense system. They can not only directly fend off herbivores by producing toxins, but also do so indirectly by emitting odorant molecules into the atmosphere that are perceived by predatory insects; these predators are...

2010-08-09 17:42:35

When plant-eating mammals such as goats chomp on a sprig of alfalfa, they could easily gobble up some extra protein in the form of insects that happen to get in their way. But a new report in the August 10th issue of Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, shows that plant-dwelling pea aphids have a strategy designed to help them avoid that dismal fate: The insects sense mammalian breath and simply drop to the ground. "Tiny insects like aphids are not helpless when facing large animals...


Word of the Day
attercop
  • A spider.
  • Figuratively, a peevish, testy, ill-natured person.
'Attercop' comes from the Old English 'atorcoppe,' where 'atter' means 'poison, venom' and‎ 'cop' means 'spider.' 'Coppa' is a derivative of 'cop,' top, summit, round head, or 'copp,' cup, vessel, which refers to 'the supposed venomous properties of spiders,' says the OED. 'Copp' is still found in the word 'cobweb.'
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