Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tobacco hornworm found to use nicotine to create 'defensive halitosis

 ( —A team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Germany has found that a species of hornworm uses nicotine it gets from eating tobacco plants, as a means of defense. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes how they found changes in defensiveness in hornworms when fed genetically altered (low-nicotine) tobacco plants.
tobacco hornworm
The tobacco hornworm is actually a caterpillar—prior to turning into a butterfly, it lives on and eats tobacco leaves—an activity that would kill most other organisms due to the nicotine in the plants. But the tobacco hornworm has evolved in such a way as to ward off the toxic properties of the chemical and has even turned it to its advantage, apparently. In this new study, the researchers in Germany wanted to know what sort of mechanism was at work that allowed the hornworm to survive eating such a poisonous plant.

Source: Here

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