Representatives of the plant world are rarely able to protect themselves from herbivorous insects — they cannot hear or see the approaching enemy, nor, especially, some way to escape from it. However, the goldenrod higher in the course of evolution, we developed a method of active protection against flies — “anyhow” that the insect is approaching, these herbaceous plants will begin well in advance to prepare for the defense.
Flies of the species Eurosta solidaginis feed on the leaves of goldenrod, and sometimes use it as a kind of “cradle” for their offspring, otkladyvat in the plant of the larvae, which subsequently begin to devour him from the inside. The saliva of the flies triggers the formation of galls — growths, protecting the larva and significantly weaken the plant. As a result, the goldenrod produces fewer seeds, and these seeds turn out smaller.
Experts from the Swiss higher technical school of Zurich and the University of Hamburg, found that goldenrod is able to capture the smell of chemical compounds in which the male flies attract females. This scent allows you to know in advance about the approach of an insect.
If the plant can be almost literally “smell” the danger in advance of it triggers a defense mechanism. As a result, the study showed, prepare in advance to meet zolotarnica produce more jasmonic acid, a hormone, to quickly heal the “wounds” inflicted by the flies, thereby preventing the formation of Gaul.
According to the researchers, the findings suggest that “the struggle of arms” between Eurosta solidaginis goldenrod and higher is a long time, and its further study will allow to better understand some of the evolutionary mechanisms behind it standing. In the near future, experts hope to study more closely the molecules which are, on the one hand, help the flies to continue the race, and on the other, enable plants to more effectively defend against them.
The study was published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.