De­ceived into sub­mis­sion

Down to Earth - - SCIENCE -

EVO­LU­TION HAS en­dowed cater­pil­lars that feed on corn with a unique abil­ity— they can in­duce the plant to turn off its de­fence against in­sect preda­tors. This helps cater­pil­lars to eat more and grow faster. The agent that causes this ef­fect is the cater­pil­lar's feaces, or frass. The find could throw new light on com­pounds as­so­ci­ated with plant re­sponse to pathogens like fungi or bac­te­ria, and help in the de­vel­op­ment of or­ganic, eco­log­i­cally sus­tain­able pes­ti­cides. Jour­nal of Chem­i­cal Ecol­ogy, Au­gust 26

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