Plants care more about kin than strangers
London, February 13 : Like humans, plants also pay more attention to their closest relatives than strangers.
When an insect bites a leaf, many plants release volatile chemicals to warn their neighbours for attack.
While some plants respond by attracting predatory insects that eat the herbivores, others make themselves less tasty.
Richard Karban of the University of California, Davis, has now suggested that for the sagebrush, responses to these warning signals may vary with relatedness, according to New Scientist.
Karban's team exposed different branches of the same plants to volatile chemicals at the start of three growing seasons.
The substances came from relatives of the same species whose leaves had been clipped to trigger chemical release.
By the end of the seasons, the researchers found that herbivores had done less damage to the branches exposed to chemicals from close relatives than to those receiving signals from more distant relatives.