Udayavni Special

Plants can camouflage odours to avoid being eaten: Study

Team Udayavani, Jun 21, 2020, 6:11 PM IST

A recent study claims, Plants in dense tropical forests can camouflage their chemical scents in order to avoid being detected and eaten by insects

International researchers from Europe and North America examined 28 species of insects and 20 plant species in Chamela-Cuixmala, a tropical forest reserve on the western coast of Mexico.

It is said that trees, herbs and shrubs are known to communicate with each other by emitting odorous chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and these serve as vital information to plant-eating insects which can help them distinguish between edible and harmful plants.

Professor Phil Stevenson, senior research leader at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and co-author on the study, said, “Plants produce a profuse diversity of odour compounds,  the natural chemicals that make plants smell.For some plants, like culinary herbs, these are distinct, we can easily distinguish oregano from rosemary by decoding the information (odours) they share, and specifically distinguishing the ones that make them smell different to other plants”

The study found that plants evolve to avoid being eaten by insects by producing odours that are very similar to other smells around them which makes it hard for insects to differentiate between plants.

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