notes10 - Thought Question Insect and Plant Interactions...

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1 1 Insect and Plant Interactions 2 Thought Question (CNN, 2005) Question: What does the Cold War and Insect/Plant Interaction have in common? 3 Answer Believe it or not, plant/insect interaction is very much like the cold war and the accompanying arms race between the United States and the former Soviet Union. However, plant/insect interaction began much earlier than the beginning of the cold war in 1945. One has to go back approximately 400 million years ago when plants and animals first appeared on the Earth. Plants evolved onto land before insects, and when insects followed they found plants to be succulent food. To keep from being eaten, plants had to combat insects with a variety of defenses which will be discussed within this unit. Read on to find out how the war turns out! 4 Objectives 1. Explain the connection between the rise of flowering plants (angiosperms) and the expansion of the number of insect species. 2. Using examples, explain the how insects can protect and help propagate plants. 3. Describe the major ways in which insects gain nutrition (phytophagy ) from the plant. 4. Describe the ways plants protect themselves from herbivorous insects. 5 Introduction Plants and insects have both benefited and harmed one another through the ages. Many plants provide sweet nectar as food to bees, wasps, moths and butterflies. In return, these insects carry pollen caught on their bodies to other plants. This aids their benefactor plants in the reproduction process. On the other hand, harm may come to the plant as insects prey on the plant for food. Those nice tender leaves are just too tempting and provide food for hungry caterpillars, the main consumers of leaves. Plants can be defoliated in short order by these feeding machines. In fact, more than half of all insects are plant feeders. It is not uncommon for insects to consume about 8.8% of the leaves in a forest. The major concern happens when there is an outbreak, like the Biblical plagues of locusts. There are outbreak conditions in which insects can defoliate entire plants or fields of crops resulting in major economic loss. Throughout the rest of this unit you will learn about both kinds of plant/insect relationships, beneficial and harmful. 6 The Beginning Plants and insects have had a long, intimate relationship. Early in the world’s history, it is believed that plants evolved onto land first and insects followed. The insects pressured the plants by feeding on them, so the plants had to develop defenses to overcome the feeding. The insects then had to evolve ways to overcome the defenses, and so on. This pressure back and forth accelerated evolution of these two groups of organisms. For example, insects may have first eaten plants on the ground. This selected for plants that thrived high up in trees. However, insects that evolved wings could then take advantage of these higher plants for forage. Eventually some insects became more and more selective and specialized regarding the kinds or parts of the plants they ate, such as sucking the nectar out of flowering plants.
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This note was uploaded on 07/23/2011 for the course ENY 3005 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at University of Florida.

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notes10 - Thought Question Insect and Plant Interactions...

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