We aren't the only beings who enjoy feasting on tasty fruits like apples, berries, peaches, and oranges. Species like bats, monkeys, bears, birds, and even fish consume fruits -- and plants count on them to do so.
Wildlife disperse their seeds by eating the fruit and defecating the seed elsewhere, thus carrying the fruit farther away and spreading the next generation of that plant. But attracting wildlife might also mean attracting harmful organisms, like some species of fungi.
Plants walk a fine line between attraction and repulsion, and to do this, they evolved to become complex chemical factories. Chemical ecologists at the Whitehead Lab at Virginia Tech are working to uncover why plants have such diverse chemicals and to determine the functions of these chemicals in plant-microbe and plant-animal interactions.
"There is still so much we don't know about the chemical compounds plants use to mediate these complicated interactions. As we continue to lose global biodiversity, we are also losing chemical diversity and the chance for discovery," said Lauren Maynard, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Biological Sciences within the College of Science.
Read on: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200910110822.htm