Crop Biotech Update

Insect Resistant Signal by Mown Grass' Aroma

September 24, 2014

A research finding on the aroma produced by mown grass when cut does not only signal a distress condition, but also a signal attracting beneficial insects such as parasitic wasps to come to the plant and lay eggs to the insect pests. This aroma is caused by the emitted volatile organic compounds that produce a defensive plant mechanism or make the plant less appetizing. Dr. Michael Kolomiets, a plant pathologist from Texas A&M AgriLife Research led a study on the role of an organic volatile compound, green leaf volatile that is observed in mown grass, in plants.

In his study, he observed the function of green leaf volatile by doing a laboratory and field trial of exposing a mutant corn not producing the compound under the attack of insect pests. The results show that parasitic wasps are not attracted to the mutant corn despite the damage caused by insect pests. This implies that the compound activates jasmonate hormone, a hormone releasing defensive signals, and produces a SOS-type signal to attract parasitic wasps to come to the plant due to the presence of insect pests. In addition, this compound is necessary in certain plant physiological process. These findings can be useful in creating new drought tolerant and insect resistant crop varieties.

Read more about this study at: http://today.agrilife.org/2014/09/22/mown-grass-smell-sends-sos-for-help-in-resisting-insect-attacks-researchers-say/.