Jonathan Gershenzon Which Chemical Traits Protect the Roots of Dandelions Against Insect Damage?
© Maximilian Dörrbecker
Max Planck Society
"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." (Source)
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
"The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena investigates the role, diversity and characteristics of chemical signals which control the interactions between organisms and their environment. Scientists from the fields of ecology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, entomology, ethology, and insect physiology work closely together in the Institute in order to understand the complex system of chemical communication. Their research focuses on the co-evolution of plants and insects. The fact that plants usually spend their entire lives in one place forces them to use effective strategies to guarantee that their offspring are spread and also to protect themselves against pests and diseases. To this effect, plants have developed a wide range of chemical signalling compounds that enable them to optimise their adaptation to their respective environments. These so-called allelochemicals are used to, among other things, attract pollinators, fend off herbivores and pests, fight diseases and keep unwelcome competitors away. Plants also synthesise mixtures of many organic substances that have a deterrent or toxic effect on herbivores. As a countermeasure, insects that feed on plants adapt accordingly and, for their part, try to overcome plant defences." (Source)
Plants use certain chemical compounds to defend themselves against animals that feed on them. As JONATHAN GERSHENZON explains in this video, dandelions are a very good model to research the defences of plants because they are especially robust. The research team therefore investigated dandelions to identify the compound that protects the roots from being damaged by insects. They studied dandelions from different regions and with different levels of these particular compounds. In a next step they compared the amount of damage after exhibiting them to an insect that feeds on the roots. After altering the plant's production of this compound the researchers found that dandelions with reduced levels of the compound were fed on more heavily by this particular insect.
LT Video Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.21036/LTPUB10219
A Latex Metabolite Benefits Plant Fitness under Root Herbivore Attack
- Meret Huber, Janina Epping, Christian Schulze Gronover, Julia Fricke, Zohra Aziz, Théo Brillatz, Michael Swyers, Tobias G. Köllner, Heiko Vogel, Almuth Hammerbacher, Daniella Triebwasser-Freese, Christelle A. M. Robert, Koen Verhoeven et al
- PLoS Biology
- Published in 2016