Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Plants, Insects Play Cat And Mouse Game

Date:
October 25, 2001
Source:
University Of Toronto
Summary:
Plants and insects play a far more intricate game than we suspect, says a University of Toronto researcher in the journal Science this month. Likening the game to one of cat and mouse, botany professor Anurag Agrawal suggests that both plants and insects have the inherent ability to adjust their behaviour - going so far as to alter their physiology and chemistry - in reaction to other species.

Plants and insects play a far more intricate game than we suspect, says a University of Toronto researcher in the journal Science this month. Likening the game to one of cat and mouse, botany professor Anurag Agrawal suggests that both plants and insects have the inherent ability to adjust their behaviour - going so far as to alter their physiology and chemistry - in reaction to other species. "On initial inspection you may think that both the caterpillar and the plant are exceedingly static - the plant just sits there and can't run away from the insect while the caterpillar is essentially stuck on that one plant as it feeds," says Agrawal. "There seems to be little flexibility in terms of their interactions. What I'm arguing is that nothing is further from the truth."

Related Articles


Plants respond to insect damage, he says. In fact, plants are so tuned to their predators that they can detect the difference between a caterpillar and a beetle. The moment a butterfly lays an egg or a moth starts eating a leaf, the plant responds by adjusting its growth, look, smell and behaviour by releasing specific chemicals and toxins to defend itself against the particular insect. Insects, in turn, adjust their phenotype - how they look and behave - and their physiological state by adapting the enzymes in their stomach to better digest the plant. This flexible cat-and-mouse strategy resulted from millions of years of co-evolution, Agrawal says.

"Instead of plants evolving maximal levels of defence and insects evolving maximal levels of counter-defence, both organisms have given themselves the latitude to be flexible in years when there's going to be a lot of the other species around. They're able to tailor their behaviour and physiology to the needs of the environment. And they're able to adjust this behaviour over the course of their individual lifetime."

Agrawal's work was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Premier's Research Excellence Award, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the University of Toronto botany department.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Toronto. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Toronto. "Plants, Insects Play Cat And Mouse Game." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011025072448.htm>.
University Of Toronto. (2001, October 25). Plants, Insects Play Cat And Mouse Game. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011025072448.htm
University Of Toronto. "Plants, Insects Play Cat And Mouse Game." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/10/011025072448.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins