About the amazing mechanism how infested tomato plants help uninfested ones to defend against 'common cutworms'.steemCreated with Sketch.

in #science4 years ago

Plants communicate, cooperate and even have the ability to learn.

During the last years it has become more and more obvious on how many fascinating ways plants are able to communicate with each other, whereby this communication is even possible between different species and actually some of the volatile organic compounds emitted by the leaves have the function to 'call' animals (for example wasps) to defend the plants against their enemies (for example aphids). R. Krulwich describes various examples of how plants are communicating in a very easy to read and entertaining way on his website.[1]

At this point I also would like to recommend everybody who is interested to learn more about astonishing abilities of plants to read a Steemit article from @justtryme90 in which he presents a study about learning capabilities of plants[2], and another one about an amazing cooperation between plants and fungi.[3]

Tomato plants attacked by insects not only warn conspecifics, but in addition their signals deliver molecules which the receiving plants can convert into weapons to defend themselves!

Today I focus on only one, but rather interesting example of plant communication respectively cooperation.

Tomato plants which are attacked by larvae of Spodoptera litura[4] ('common cutworms') release chemical signals containing various volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

The attacker, larvae of Spodoptera litura ...


Kenji Matsui and colleagues from Yamaguchi University found out that in a constant airflow system under laboratory conditions leaves of tomato plants growing downwind of plants purposely infested with cutworms contained a higher concentration of the glycoside (Z)-3-hexenylvicianoside (HexVic) than normal uninfested plants. Similar results were achieved in an experimental field.[5]

Why is that of any importance? Well, HexVic is a defensive compound which slows down weight gain of the cutworms and thus reduces their survival chances.

At first Matsui assumed the uninfested tomato plants just would detect the signals of the infested ones and then start to synthesize HexVic to be able to defend themselves against the approximating danger: "We expected that volatiles made the receiving plants more defensive through activating a signal pathway". This kind of communication between plants would be amazing enough, but there is even more ...

... the VOC signals of the infested plants not only activate the receivers to synthesize their defensive compound, but in addition already contain (Z)-Hex-3-en-1-ol[6] (lets just call it (Z)-3-hexenol from now on), a parent substance for the production of HexVic.

The defender ...

Source: pixabay.

How to prove that the plants really make use of the delivered (Z)-3-hexenol?

But how could the scientists be sure that the pest-free plants really used the (Z)-3-hexenol delivered by the infested ones to build HexVic? It could also be that they synthesized it without using the component sent by their conspecifcs ...

The solution was to mark (Z)-3-hexenol with deuterium, 2H (a 'heavy' hydrogen isotope whose nucleus contains beside a proton an additional neutron),[7] and then spraying it onto the plants. The later produced HexVic contained the deuterium, as well, which was the proof that absorbed (Z)-3-hexenol (rather than (Z)-3-hexenol already stored within the plant) is utilized by the leaves of the tomato plants to synthesize HexVic.[8]

The scientists found already other HexVic producing plants like sorghum and rice which might use similar mechanisms to defend themselves. The next step would be to isolate genes involved in the glycosylation of (Z)-3-hexenol, and use them in agriculture to protect tomato plants and other crops.


  1. http://www.radiolab.org/story/plants-talk-plants-listen/
  2. https://steemit.com/science/@justtryme90/plants-can-learn-from-experiences-yes-you-read-that-correctly
  3. https://steemit.com/science/@justtryme90/carbon-for-nitrogen-please-say-the-trees-to-the-fungus-sure-thing-say-the-fungi-but-pay-no-mind-to-the-insect-corpses
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spodoptera_litura
  5. http://www.pnas.org/content/111/19/7144
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cis-3-Hexen-1-ol
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deuterium
  8. https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/tomatoes-cry-for-help-turned-into-chemical-weapon-to-battle-insects/7308.article

The more I read about things you write in your articles, the more I realize that there are soooo many things that I don't know. Plants communicate and cooperate? That's something I've never imagined :D

I am glad to hear that you actually can learn anything by reading my articles! :)

That is for sure, @jaki01. I love reading your articles like these and of course your travel stories. But to be honest I don't understand the ones about chess :D

Interesting how the whole ecosystem works and every part of it has its own function and purpose.
Maybe the plants will rule the world some day? just kidding ;-P

Thanks also for the reference sources!
Liebe Grüße aus der Pfalz :)

In a certain way plants do rule the world: we are depending both on their released O2 (while fixing CO2) and on the organic molecules (like glucose) they are producing on the basis of anorganic matter by doing photosynthesis. That means without plants we just couldn't exist. They can exist very well without us, though. :)

By the way, in case you liked my article, then don't worry: I will not forbid you to upvote it. :)

Yeah you're right with your thoughts.
That's why it's all the sadder that in many regions the woods get cleared..
And in the same second there are more and more cars on the streets or other exhaust gas pollution.

Oh I'm sorry, I thought I already upvoted your post. Now it's there!
Also I follow your blog :)

Interesting information! It’s really amazing that tomato plants can help other plants to defend against cutworms. I haven’t heard about this before. Thanks so much for sharing! ;)

Super-interessanter Artikel! Wer hätte das von Tomatenpflanzen gedacht...

Wow, fascinating! Things I didn't know! But I don't see the point in then GMOing the plants to do what they're already doing. The world is finding out that GMOing plants is a vector for those scientists with malicious intentions to weaponize the food supply. Instead, we can use plants' native abilities to improve and expand our organic farming & gardening.

I am a supporter of organic farming & gardening, too, but at least extracted genes which could produce defense compounds in laboratories are different from poisonous chemicals: the end product would still be natural. There should be some testing though to be sure that it only affects the 'cutworms' and not at the same time bees, bumblebees or butterflies ...

Hello @jaki01,

Extraordinary good article about unknown information about this bravest plant.


Very cool article. Who knew that plants communicate with each other? This reminded me about something I read about a while ago about a defense mechanism that bacteria use to protect the colony. I tried searching for it, but so far no luck. However, I did find another interesting behavior of our old friend, the tomato plant ...

When under attack by caterpillars, tomato plants release the chemical methyl jasmonate. This gives the tomato leaves an unpleasant taste, so the caterpillars (hungry as they are) start eating each other. Basically, the plant capitalizes on a trait of these nasty little beasts: when food is scarce, they turn into cannibals! And just as we saw in your research, @jaki01, the release of methyl jasmonate is a signal to neighboring tomato plants to take the same defensive measure.


I have new-found respect for tomato plants. :)

Amazing! In particular how one plant somehow sacrifies itself to save the others!

Amazing how nature is able to adjust to the circumstances.
Shared with my followers.

Vielen Dank! :)

Huh whats up now? My eyes must be misleading me. Jaki you are obviously a man of many talents :) didn't think of you when taking a look into the science corner but well that's now a given :)
Nice article nice tomato:)

I am like a 'sleeping' virus so that many weeks or even months you can't detect any scientific activity on Steemit, but suddenly seemingly without any real reason the true nature comes to light. Then, after a while the virus will hide again and continue to 'sleep'. :)

Great post! My wife is currently reading a book about tress and she was telling me how they even help each other at the root level. Nature is so wonderful!

Vielleicht dieses?

Mensch du bist gut! Genau ist es, Peter Wohlleben! *Das Geheime Leben der Bäume."

O my God

such many interesting and great and out of mind our world has!!
i like this atricles that help us to know more about around of us , around the world and so.. the power of God
I really believe that all plants and flowers feel every thing.. feel kindness,, so when i water them i talk to them and sing for them:) like a baby.. it helps to grow better DQma5ysUY9Liq6o78vDxju1UNYRLLgE6i5VXgD3NVvh8NvU.gif

I believe in the power of evolution ... :)

This reminds me of the mechanisms the penguins used in the book "The Selfish Gene" by Charles Dawkins to make sure their genes get passed on. It shows that penguins relatives if they did not have kids benefited by raising and protecting their nieces and nephews because they still contained some of the same genes.

It's Charles Darwin but Richard Dawkins! :)

There are many examples. Think about eusocial insects, for example bees, where two 'sisters' have more genes in common than 'mother' and 'daughter'. That's one possible explanation why they sacrifice themselves for each other.


do u mean Darwin theory of biological evolution developed ?

Yes, I just call it evolution theory. Since Darwin many other scientists have worked on it to further improve it respectively find out more details.

there are many links and sources about that, if u have time , send me the link that you are trust in and believe ! i like to know more about that

Hey das ist ja ein cooler Beitrag, wusste gar nicht, dass du dich auch für sowas interessierst. Sehr spannend.

Meine naturwissenschaftlichen Beiträge auf Englisch scheinen an der deutschen Community ziemlich vorbei zu gehen. Allerdings sind die Beiträge so aufwändig, dass es mir meist zu viel ist, sie zweisprachig zu verfassen. Hast du die letzten beiden auch gelesen, über Schimpansen und den Spiegeltest?

Vielleicht ist die deutsche Community nicht so englischfest?
Ich denke es würde sich lohnen, die nochmal ins Deutsche zu übersetzen, oder du lässt übersetzen? :)

Ich hätte nichts dagegen, einige der Beiträge zu übersetzen, aber würde es nicht einen seltsamen Eindruck machen, mit einem Artikel zweimal zu verdienen? Aber ok, ich denke mal darüber nach. :)

Also ich meinte damit eigentlich den deutschen Text im selben Posting zu veröffentlichen. So wie viele (Deutsche) das zweisprachig machen.
So werde ich das zumindest in meinen kommenden Post machen.
Du kannst das natürlich handhaben wie du möchtest :)

Meine nicht naturwissenschaftlichen Artikel sind fast immer zweisprachig.
Wenn es um Wissenschaft geht, ist der Aufwand pro Artikel (Recherche, Quellenangabe, Exaktheit der Information, ...) allerdings so hoch, dass ich einfach nicht die Zeit habe, auch noch zweisprachig zu schreiben. Ich könnte diese Artikel höchstens irgendwann im Nachhinein übersetzen.

Ich denke auch das es einfach schwieriger zu lesen ist, wenn man nicht sehr gut englisch kann. Kann mir nicht vorstellen, das es einen anderen Grund hat :)

Ja, denke ich auch. Jedenfalls hatte ich auch so meine Schwierigkeiten....

I love studies like this that unravel the well hidden secrets of plants :)

Wonderful post. Didn't know tomatoes have the ability to do this. Thanks for letting me know. Thanks for exploring the educational aspect of steemit.

Job welldone!!👏👏👏

Wow this is amazing news! Yesterday I was blamed to one of my tomato tree, coz they are so weak! Not strong enough to hold Tomato :D Great information! I heard some plants are doing this work while they got unwanted visitors! World is amazing nah!


Thank you for the articles you share and very rewarding for me, when reading it I just know that the plants also communicate and this becomes an additional science for me. ..
Keep it always gives a useful article for us
Thanks @jaki01

Nice to see that you liked my article! :)

What an awesome read. Thanks for posting. In Tennessee, we take pride in our heirloom tomatoes.. but cut worms are horrible here. I use bonemeal and bloodmeal in the soil first and then spray weekly with soapy water with cayenne pepper in it.

Interesting! I hope your measures will be successful!

This is really new concept for me.. i didnt know even plants have unity to defend against enemies... i knew plants have weapons.. today learn how they make this weapons.. interesting article as well as impressive title!

thanks for shearing. its good post

i read this almost 3 time because some word i cant understand because my English poor but i jut get to know one interesting thing which i dont know before and its there is something in plant that they protect themselves and one of amazing things. sometimes i use translator too so sorry if i misunderstood anything.

Awesome! I love gardening, both art and science.

I believe that all living things can communicate within themselves. We as humans just don't understand it all yet.

This is really interesting to know !!!

tomatoes are better than people in my country :D

actually I do not really know about plants, even the plant's scientific how it grows and develops .. but after listening carefully your article is very helpful for me and add my insight.
great post my friend @jaki01

That is really interesting topic I have learnt today. How amazing the way of natural immunity embedded in the plants by Almighty!!

good to know and thanks for sharing

:-) What a fast reader you are! ;-)

Nature always archive Balance for benefit of all species!

If there is enough time, ecological balances will ensue. However, it is also part of evolution to eliminate species which are not adapted well enough to the given environmental conditions.

Thanks for sharing.
((((((( Resteem Service))))))

Excellent post. thanks for sharing.
Upvote Resteem

Really nice article jaki.I am impressed.Keep going,all the best for you from my heart.

Amazing knowledge ,thanks for it

Nature indeed has its own way to protect itself !
Nicely explained ,did not know about that !

Today I'm surprised. I was underestimated Tomato before. But now I understood what kind of sacrifaction it can do. Useful information you shared.

~Followed & Upvoted

this is an excited news. brave tomato plants. impressive article @jaki01


really smart & nice post....

amazing mechanism, thanks for it

This is amazing information. Moreover a brave decision while it's dying it informed the community danger is there. One of the best sacrifice ever~

interesting blog.
Thanks @jaki01
Have a nice day

Thats a really blog. useful science.
Upvote Resteem

I like for more practical definitions of terms and concepts. I refer to study plants communication & astonishing abilities. You`ve nice example use with tomato plants. Scientists was and will find lot of abilities of plants after operations. Great learning point @jaki01.

super post...I like it re-steem

Wonderful biology post, better for the science students, project makers etc..
good examples added. Plants has more astonishing abilities, i didn`t know before.
Upvote, Resteem.

Great article of plants [email protected] I hv never heard before communicate between plants each others. nice project.
Upvote & Resteem.

Excellent post .
For your post propagation.

Exellent post tip! 0.1

Great post. Enjoyed reading it. Thanks for

Eco-system interacts continuously. The main thing is not to interfere with nature to do what it is supposed to do

It’s an elegant tale, and it may be happening in far more plant species than tomatoes and with far more chemical signals that are still unintelligible to us.

Calling @originalworks :)
img credz: pixabay.com
Nice, you got a 25.0% @peaceandlove upgoat, thanks to @jaki01
It consists of $5.24 vote and $1.75 curation
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The @OriginalWorks bot has determined this post by @jaki01 to be original material and upvoted(1.5%) it!


To call @OriginalWorks, simply reply to any post with @originalworks or !originalworks in your message!

very Interesting and thanks you @jaki01 to guide us and introduce us to this techniques

If the article is "interesting" you may consider to upvote it. :)

Probably he didn't even read it.

Congratulations @jaki01, this post is the forth most rewarded post (based on pending payouts) in the last 12 hours written by a Superhero or Legend account holder (accounts hold greater than 100 Mega Vests). The total number of posts by Superhero and Legend account holders during this period was 29 and the total pending payments to posts in these categories was $1285.30. To see the full list of highest paid posts across all accounts categories, click here.

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Fabulous one!!!
Excellent post .......////////

great post and quite informative
you doing great in your blog and sharing such an amazing content about plants like tomatoes communicating/cooperate to protect another...tks for sharing

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