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Herbivore defense in ferns
Date:11/21/2012

the same metabolic pathway already known from flowering plants. "It is likely that the herbivory-induced accumulation of jasmonic acid is not sufficient to trigger the production of volatile compounds in our experiments," says Wilhelm Boland, director of the department.

Could it be possible that ferns do not need indirect defenses by means of volatile emission? Is the presence of highly toxic substances in the fern fronds sufficient to fend off herbivores? "We can only speculate," says Boland. Indirect defense strategies may have evolved from originally direct defenses (e.g. in the Chinese ladder brake, Pteris vittata) or, on the other hand, in the context of pollinator attraction to volatiles, which is a trait that has naturally evolved in flowering and seed-producing plants and not in flowerless ferns, the scientist continues. It remains fascinating though, that even without apparent indirect defenses bracken ferns successfully colonize our planet to this day. [JWK/AO]


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Contact: Dr. Wilhelm Boland
boland@ice.mpg.de
49-036-415-71201
Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
Source:Eurekalert  

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