USDA National Wildlife Research Center Symposia


Date of this Version

August 1995


Chemical approaches to studying plant/animal interactions have led to an appreciation that plant chemistry strongly influences patterns of herbivory. Although this chemistry is often rather complex, two basic factors have emerged: plant chemistry influences herbivores in both positive and negative ways by determining dietary quality of plants and by providing feeding cues. Examination of the results from numerous studies addressing these issues has led to the development of three working hypotheses: (1) there is a molecular basis for chemical cues; (2) the molecular diversity of chemical signals implies specific mechanisms for plant-initiated attraction or repellence of herbivores; and (3) there are dynamic elements to many plant chemical defenses