Bug Off!

Unbe-leaf-able! Plants can be SO defensive! 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

You just brought home this plant and the leaves are already chewed up? How can we protect our green beauties?

The answer could be. . . Tobacco plants. . They produce an arsenal of chemicals to repel pests. Their weapon of choice? A defense compound called CPH. 

Now enter Yuechen Bai and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology.

First, they treated faba bean plant leaves with CPH-producing bacteria. They also treated tomato plants with a CPH-triggering chemical. Then, they let leafhoppers hop up to this chemical-rich buffet… 

Results? The normal CPH-lacking plants killed AT MOST twelve percent of the pests. When CPH was present, it was OVER EIGHT TIMES deadlier to the leafhoppers! 

The researchers hope that we can treat crops to naturally produce compounds like CPH in the future. The researchers believe these compounds can be a greener alternative to plant protection!

So leafhoppers … BUG OFF!.. And die.

Reference: Bai, Y., Yang, C., Halitschke, R., Paetz, C., Kessler, D., Burkard, K., Gaquerel, E., Baldwin, I. T., & Li, D. (2022). Natural history-guided omics reveals plant defensive chemistry against leafhopper pests. Science (New York, N.Y.), 375(6580), eabm2948. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abm2948