Why do plants 'talk'?

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Plant defence can be induced by herbivory. This is true for both direct and indirect plant defence. Induced direct defence has been the most studied of the two. However, in most cases induced direct defence does not appear to be a water-tight defence option. In contrast, induced indirect defence through the production of herbivore-induced carnivore attractants can be a decisive factor in the extermination of herbivore populations. In this paper the main characteristics of induced attraction of carnivores by plants are reviewed. This includes the similarities and dissimilarities among tritrophic systems. There are two main patterns of induced carnivore attraction. (1) Through the emission of the same bouquet as that emitted by mechanically damaged plants, but in larger quantities and for a longer period of time after damage. (2) Through emission of large amounts of new volatiles that are synthesizedde novo in response to herbivore feeding andnot in response to mechanical wounding. Herbivore populations may be decimated by carnivores. Therefore it should be realized that herbivoreinduced carnivore attractants are essential in an important step in carnivore foraging,i.e. long-distance herbivore location. Once herbivores have started feeding on a plant and direct defence is not effective, induced indirect defence may be decisive for plant survival. Therefore, it is concluded that indirect defence is an essential aspect of induced plant defence directed at herbivorous arthropods.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-165
Publication statusPublished - 1995

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