After placing live caterpillars back on both sets of plants, the researchers found that the set that had been exposed to the caterpillar's feeding sounds produced more mustard oil, a chemical that's meant to fend off hungry critters. According to Heidi Appel, senior research scientist in the Division of Plant Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the Bond Life Sciences Center at MU:
Our work is the first example of how plants respond to an ecologically relevant vibration. We found that feeding vibrations signal changes in the plant cells' metabolism, creating more defensive chemicals that can repel attacks from caterpillars.
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