Chemical Warfare

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Science  02 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5471, pp. 1549-1551
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5471.1549e

When a plant is attacked by another organism, such as a fungus or a herbivorous insect, it cannot very well flee; instead it produces noxious chemical compounds. Engelberth et al. have studied the responses of the Lima bean plant to peptaibols, which are small peptides emitted by soil fungi. Peptaibols appear to act by forming ion-conducting pores within cell membranes. In response to one peptaibol, alamethicin, a variety of volatile molecules, such as terpenoids and aromatics, were synthesized and released from the plant leaves. Several other plant species behaved similarly when treated with other peptaibols and also displayed a tendril-coiling response.—JU

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.39, 1860 (2000).

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