The answer is blowin’ in the wind…

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Image: Wikimedia Commons

How does a rooted-to-the-spot plant escape the attentions of would-be herbivores? Well, according to Kazuo Yamazaki in his review straightforwardly entitled ‘Gone with the wind: trembling leaves may deter herbivory’, they move, and rather rapidly, too! No, they don’t run away, but by employing rapid – though passive – movements, such as the wind-induced trembling of leaves, they may keep invertebrate invaders at bay. Those movements may dislodge herbivores or parasites or dissuade gravid females from laying their eggs on the ‘movable feast’.

The leafy jinglings and janglings may also serve to uncover animals previously hidden by the foliage, subjecting them to the undesired attentions of their own predators. Furthermore, the tremblings may assist the dispersal of plant volatile compounds thereby repelling herbivores and/or attracting their predators. Lovely stuff (and so elegant, it must be correct!). As in the human world, so too it would seem in the plant world, it’s the movers and shakers who get things done.

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About Nigel Chaffey

Nigel is a botanist and full-time academic in a UK university. As News Editor for the Annals of Botany he contributes the monthly Plant Cuttings column to that august international botanical organ. His main goal is to inform (hopefully, in an amusing, educational, and entertaining way...) about plants and plant-people interactions.