Navigation Links
New research indicates plants can grow quickly or ward off hungry insects, but not both
Date:3/25/2010

Irvine, Calif., March 25, 2010 There's a war occurring each day in our backyards plant versus plant-eating insect versus insect-eating insect. Research by UC Irvine's Kailen Mooney suggests the outcome of interest to farmers is a stalemate.

For a study published online Friday, March 26, in the journal Science, Mooney and colleagues studied 16 species of milkweed, a group of flowering plants found throughout the Western hemisphere.

The scientists sought to determine the relationship among plant growth, how plants defend themselves against plant-eaters (with thorns and toxins, for example), and the protection plants receive from predators such as ladybugs that eat plant-hungry insects. The herbivores in this case bright yellow aphids damage plants; ladybugs can act as bodyguards, helping plants by eating aphids.

The researchers asked: Can plants have it all? Can they grow quickly and defend themselves against herbivores while at the same time solicit protection from ladybugs and other bodyguards?

The answer: No.

Milkweed species that grow quickly (a desirable trait) are more vulnerable to insects that feed on them (an undesirable trait), making those plants more dependent upon predators for their survival. In other words, you can be either a hard-to-eat, slow growing plant that doesn't need bodyguards, or a tasty, fast-growing plant that relies on outside protection.

The finding could be important to farmers trying to develop herbivore-proof, fast-growing crops, and it betters our understanding of how the natural world works.

"We can breed plants to for fast growth, but if we do that, it appears we're weakening the plants' immunity against herbivores, making them more dependent upon protection from potentially unreliable predators," says Mooney, assistant professor of ecology & evolutionary biology.

And there may not be much that farmers can do.

"Milkweed has been evolving for as many as 20 million years. Natural selection favors faster-growing plants and those that easily fight off insects," Mooney says. "If nature hasn't found a way to combine both, perhaps it's something that cannot be done."

Cornell University scientists Rayko Halitschke, Andre Kessler and Anurag Agrawal also worked on this study, funded in part by the National Science Foundation.


'/>"/>

Contact: Kailen Mooney
mooneyk@uci.edu
949-769-4451
University of California - Irvine
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Charles Drew University researcher will be honored for discoveries
2. UC-developed technology to assist research and genetic drug delivery
3. Vaccine could delay bowel inflammation and colon cancer, says Pitt research
4. Singapore program to provide clinical insight; showcase for regional research
5. JDRF funded researchers test topical drug to treat diabetic macular edema
6. Einstein-Montefiore research tackles childhood obesity in the Bronx
7. BTIs Brutnell leads part of NSF Computational Plant Biology Research System
8. IU researchers target vascular disease linked to cancer-causing gene mutation
9. Analytica Research Prize for Dr. Matthias Selbach of MDC
10. NYU School of Medicine presents biomedical researchers Dart/NYU Biotechnology Achievement Awards
11. Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/22/2016)... 22, 2016   Acuant , the ... solutions, has partnered with RightCrowd ® ... Visitor Management, Self-Service Kiosks and Continuous Workforce ... add functional enhancements to existing physical access ... venues with an automated ID verification and ...
(Date:6/20/2016)... June 20, 2016 Securus Technologies, a ... solutions for public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring ... involved, it has secured the final acceptance by ... for Managed Access Systems (MAS) installed. Furthermore, Securus ... to be installed by October, 2016. MAS distinguishes ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... , June 9, 2016  Perkotek an innovation leader in attendance control systems ... seamlessly log work hours, for employers to make sure the right employees are actually ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160609/377486LOGO ... ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... NC (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... mission to bring innovative medical technologies, services and solutions to the healthcare market. ... and implementation of various distribution, manufacturing, sales and marketing strategies that are necessary ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016   Ginkgo Bioworks , ... industrial engineering, was today awarded as one of ... of the world,s most innovative companies. Ginkgo Bioworks ... for the real world in the nutrition, health ... work directly with customers including Fortune 500 companies ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... While the majority ... as the Cary 5000 and the 6000i models are higher end machines that use ... height of the spectrophotometer’s light beam from the bottom of the cuvette holder. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... pleased to announce the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores ... 35 years, is proud to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: