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Nature. 2002 Apr 11;416(6881):599-600.

Herbivory: caterpillar saliva beats plant defences.

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Department of Entomology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701, USA.


Blood-feeding arthropods secrete special salivary proteins that suppress the defensive reaction they induce in their hosts. This is in contrast to herbivores, which are thought to be helpless victims of plant defences elicited by their oral secretions. On the basis of the finding that caterpillar regurgitant can reduce the amount of toxic nicotine released by the tobacco plant Nicotiana tabacum, we investigate here whether specific salivary components from the caterpillar Helicoverpa zea might be responsible for this suppression. We find that the enzyme glucose oxidase counteracts the production of nicotine induced by the caterpillar feeding on the plant.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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