A Kick From a Rose
An MS/MS-based metabolomics study reveals that plants can adapt their chemical defenses to ward off insect attacks
Lauren Robertson | | Quick Read
Plants are capable of producing a much greater diversity of metabolites than any other biological kingdom – but why is this? Scientists believe evolutionary pressures from herbivorous insects are at the root of this chemical diversity, but there are conflicting theories on how this happens.
There are two main schools of thought: either plants alter their metabolome to produce a more effective and targeted defense against attackers, or the changes in metabolism are random, leaving insects unable to adapt. Until now, testing these contradictory theories has relied on a narrow set of well-defined plant metabolites – or “defense compounds.” But modern MS metabolomics is changing the game.
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- Dapeng Li et al., Science Advances, 6 (2020). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz0381