Milkweed evolves to repair itself faster

In keeping with this month’s plant evolution theme we have a news story on milkweed evolution.

The adage that your enemies know your weaknesses best is especially true in the case of plants and predators that have co-evolved: As the predators evolve new strategies for attack, plants counter with their own unique defenses.

Milkweed is the latest example of this response, according to Cornell research suggesting that plant may be shifting away from elaborate defenses against specialized caterpillars toward a more energy-efficient approach. Genetic analysis reveals an evolutionary trend for milkweed plants away from resisting predators to putting more effort into repairing themselves faster than caterpillars — particularly the monarch butterfly caterpillar — can eat them. . . .[ read more Milkweed’s evolutionary approach to caterpillars: Counter appetite with fast repair]

This approach is great news for monarch butterflies.

2 thoughts on “Milkweed evolves to repair itself faster

  1. Most people, perhaps even most gradeners, are not aware that poisonous plants are not poisonous by accident. Poisons are a plant’s defense against getting eaten. Even some plant compounds that we don’t think of as poisons apparently are. Tobacco and caffeine come to mind. Probably marijuana and opium too.

  2. So I wonder how it benefits some plants to make hallucinogens rather than outright toxins?

    I bet there is some interesting information there if we can tease it out.

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