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article imageTomatoes produce chemical weapons

By Tim Sandle     May 3, 2014 in Science
Kyoto - A new study shows that the tomato plant releases a chemical that its neighbors can use to develop defenses against invading cutworms.
Tomato plants are capable of detecting defensive chemicals that their neighbors release into the air and they can also use those same chemicals to fashion their own deterrents for the invaders.
A research team has studied how tomatoes respond to cutworms, a moth caterpillar, and a common pest. According to National Geographic, researchers found that a plant infested with cutworms produces a compound called HexVic. Furthermore, infested plants released another compound, (Z)-3-hexenol, which their neighboring plants took up and converted to more HexVic. The study shoowed that tomato plants downwind of infested plants were able to kill nearly 50 percent of invading cutworms.
Discussing the study, Kenji Matsui of Yamaguchi University told Chemistry World: "Plants can synthesize a wide array of chemical weapons and the involvement of volatile organic compounds in plant-plant communication has already been reported."
The new study was carried out by researchers at Kyoto University and it has been published in PNAS. The paper is titled "Intake and transformation to a glycoside of (Z)-3-hexenol from infested neighbors reveals a mode of plant odor reception and defense."
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