Plants vs. Predators

Maarten van Helden Maarten.vanhelden at
Thu May 18 05:03:06 EST 1995

In article <3pc5gd$grj at>, tcrancue at says...
 snip snip

>While plants don't seem to react to attack, there is evidence that if a
>single plant is damaged, either by an animal or the blow of an axe, the
>chemical balance of trees surrounding the damaged tree changes. You could
>say that they "sense" this damage and make moves to adjust their chemical
>states to the best advantage during an attack. This "sense" is probably a
>simple chemical reaction to the release of chemicals from the damaged
>Hope this helps!

Hello out there, you seem to have overlooked some of the latest discoveries. 
When a plant is attacked by an insect it can start to produce compounds 
like phenolics which deter an insect/predator. This is a very important 
phenomena eventhough the underlyiing mechanism is not very well understood. 
Moreover there have been a number of papers which describe that an 
phytophagous organism, while eating from a plant induces the production of 
volatile compounds by the plant, which then attract predators of the 
phytophagous attacker. You might say that the plants "cry for help". Since the 
first discovery of this phenomena some years ago a large number of examples 
has been found. The volatile compounds are often attacker specific and 
therefore also attract only the specific predators !!
Some recent publications even suggest that neighbouring plants might join the 
chorus and produce these volatiles even though they are not damaged 
themselves. For more info: contact Marcel Dicke at 
"Marcel.dicke at"  

||\\  //||  Maarten van Helden
|| \\// ||  Dept. of Entomology
||  \/  ||  Wageningen Agricultural University
||||||||||  Binnenhaven 7, 6709 PD
||      ||  Wageningen, the Netherlands
||      ||  Tel +31-8370-85118 Fax +31-8370-84821
||      ||  Email: <maarten.vanhelden at>

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