Tag Archives | herbivores

Fruits and Veggies Can Be “Trained” to Defend against Herbivores

attack_of_the_killer_tomatoesJane J. Lee writes at National Geographic:

A study published online today in the journal Current Biology found that store-bought cabbage, lettuce, spinach, zucchini, sweet potatoes, carrots, and blueberries respond to light-dark cycles up to about a week after harvest.

And when the produce was kept on the same light-dark cycle as a predator—cabbage looper moth caterpillars (Trichoplusia ni)—it was better able to resist attacks.

Circadian clocks tell plants when the seasons change due to variations in day length, saidJanet Braam, a plant biologist at Rice University in Houston, Texas. But the clock is also critical in plant defenses against insects.

“[Plants] know when the insects eat,” said Braam, who is a co-author on the recent study, “so they can prepare a defense in advance.”

Braam and colleagues knew that levels of protective compounds called glucosinolates were under the control of the circadian clock in a plant called Arabidopsis.

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