A tall goldenrod plant can protect itself by first "smelling" its attacker and then initiating its defenses, according to an international team of researchers. Gall-inducing flies (Eurosta solidaginis) are specialists that in Pennsylvania feed only on tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima). The male flies emit a blend of chemicals that is attractive to females. Once the females arrive and the eggs are fertilized, the females deposit their eggs within the stem of a goldenrod plant. Scientists found that goldenrod plants exposed to chemicals from the male flies produced greater amounts of a defense chemical, known as jasmonic acid, when they were damaged by herbivores. In their current study, the scientists aimed to identify the specific chemical compounds goldenrod plants are detecting and to determine how sensitive the plants are to the compounds.
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