A pest caterpillar attacking the leaves of a sweet potato plant.
Photo: ©Anja Meents, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology


<< First < Previous Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Next > Last >>
A single volatile substance can be sufficient to induce a defence response in sweet potatoes to herbivores. Researchers have identified this substance and shown that the mechanism is not only limited to the attacked plant itself but also alerts unaffected neighbouring plants to defend themselves against attackers.

Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are becoming more and more popular. Although economically still not as important as the potato world-wide, the sweet potato has a higher nutritional value and is richer in vitamins. Particularly in Asia, the crop is an important source of nutrients. 

Different cultivars of sweet potatoes are available, all displaying their own characteristics. Even cultivars grown in the field under similar conditions may differ strikingly with respect to insect attack. In previous studies, a cultivar known as Tainong 57 had demonstrably higher resistance to field herbivores in comparison to the cultivar known as Tainong 66. 

When attacked, the plants’ leaves emit a distinct odour bouquet. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, and at the National Taiwan University wanted to find out whether the high insect resistance in one cultivar was related to this odour. They especially wanted to find out whether sweet potatoes have mechanisms to activate defence responses via volatile signals, as described in other plant species.

The plant hormone sporamin makes attacking insects lose their appetite

First the scientists examined what happens in a plant after it has been attacked by herbivores.

<< First < Previous Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Next > Last >>