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Trends Ecol Evol. 2010 Mar;25(3):137-44. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2009.09.010.

Explaining evolution of plant communication by airborne signals.

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Departamento de Ingeniería Genética. CINVESTAV, Irapuato, Guanajuato, México.


In spite of initial doubts about the reality of 'talking trees', plant resistance expression mediated by volatile compounds that come from neighboring plants is now well described. Airborne signals usually improve the resistance of the receiver, but without obvious benefits for the emitter, thus making the evolutionary explanation of this phenomenon problematic. Here, we discuss four possible non-exclusive explanations involving the role of volatiles: in direct defense, as within-plant signals, as traits that synergistically interact with other defenses, and as cues among kin. Unfortunately, there is a lack of knowledge on the fitness consequences of plant communication for both emitter and receiver. This information is crucial to understanding the ecology and evolution of plant communication via airborne cues.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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