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:3/22/2016)... PROVO and SANDY, Utah ... Ontario (NSO), which operates the highest sample volume laboratory ... and Tute Genomics and UNIConnect, leaders in clinical sequencing ... announced the launch of a project to establish the ... panel. NSO has been contracted by ...
(Date:3/17/2016)... LONDON , March 17, 2016 ... market intelligence, forecasts the global biometrics market will ... an impressive 118% increase from 2015. Consumer electronics, ... with embedded fingerprint sensors anticipated to reach two ... Dimitrios Pavlakis , Research Analyst ...
(Date:3/14/2016)... , March 14, 2016 NXTD ... growing mobile commerce market, announces the airing of a new ... starting the week of March 21 st .  The commercials ... including its popular Squawk on the Street show. --> ... on the growing mobile commerce market, announces the airing of ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/3/2016)... May 3, 2016 ... Drug Discovery, Gene Expression) Lab-on-a-chip (IVD & ... Institutes, Diagnostics Centers), Fabrication Technology (Microarrays, Microfluidics) ... the market is expected to reach USD ... Billion in 2015, growing at a CAGR ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... May 03, 2016 , ... In a list published by ... the state’s 76 fastest-growing private companies; a small percentage of the state's 615,000+ small ... on the percent change in revenue from 2012 to 2015. , As ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... May 03, 2016 , ... Flagship Biosciences, ... Nancy Gillett to its Board of Directors. Dr. Gillett recently retired from Charles ... Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer. A board-certified veterinary pathologist, Dr. Gillett joined ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... NY (PRWEB) , ... May 03, 2016 , ... ... NeuroTech NYC , the sensor and data driven conferences, will take place on June ... UnitedHealth's Vidya Raman-Tangella on incorporating technology -- including AR/VR, machine ...
Breaking Biology Technology: