“Big defense = less growth”

A plant has a hard life
Often  attacked by a gobs of insects, birds and mammals. They have to develop an effective defense – spines, thorns, prickly leaf hairs or an arsenal of toxic chemical substances to fits the occasion.  A plant has to do what a plant has to do to make it in a cruel world.

What cost does the plant pay for having to put its energy into elaborate defense mechanisms?

Ecologists and plant biologists of the University of Zurich together with their American colleagues have now found out the price plants must pay for defending themselves.

Researchers used mutants of the same genotype of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and harvested a group of these plants at regular intervals to measure the amount of growth over the  plant’s life.

“Mutants with suppressed defense mechanisms showed an increased growth rate, but the faster growth the faster the aphids population reproduced. On the slow growing plants with intact defense mechanisms the  aphid population grow normally.

Natural resistance is often not compatible with fast growth. This finding is of great importance for agricultural crops: These crops have been selected for high yield and as a consequence have very low natural resistance to herbivores, consequentially requiring high input of insecticides.

“Growing crops more naturally is more conducive to healthier pest resistant plants and nutritious crops.” – Mother Nature

Resources

Excerpts courtesy of  http://bit.ly/ihjtsP

Image courtesy of   http://bit.ly/gzAmQN

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