Macroevolutionary and geographical intensification of chemical defense in plants driven by insect herbivore selection pressure

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18 Scopus citations


Plants produce an extensive array of secondary chemical compounds that often function as defenses against insect herbivores. In theory, because of steadily herbivore adaptation, lineages of plants have reacted by escalating their chemical arsenals over time. Following this assumption, over the last three decades researchers have searched for potential signs of chemical intensification in plants. Although modern methodologies now allow the inference of macroevolutionary chemical trends with substantial confidence there are still only a handful of studies on this subject. These examples suggest that intensification of plant chemical defenses is the result of lineages progressively incrementing their compounds as well as recruiting an increasing number of biosynthetic pathways to produce more complex chemical mixtures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number91
Pages (from-to)15-21
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Insect Science
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science

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