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July 5 2014

Plants respond defensively to the sound of caterpillars eating their leaves

Plants respond defensively to the sounds that caterpillars make when eating their leaves, research has discovered.

Scientists at the University of Missouri (UM) found that plants produce more mustard oil, a chemical that is unappealing to many caterpillars, when exposed to the feeding vibrations caused by caterpillars chewing.

For the study, caterpillars were placed on Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant related to cabbage and mustard.

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