Problems and paradigms
Plants on red alert: do insects pay attention?
Article first published online: 20 DEC 2005
Copyright © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 28, Issue 1, pages 65–71, January 2006
How to Cite
Schaefer, H. M. and Rolshausen, G. (2006), Plants on red alert: do insects pay attention?. Bioessays, 28: 65–71. doi: 10.1002/bies.20340
- Issue published online: 20 DEC 2005
- Article first published online: 20 DEC 2005
Two recent hypotheses have proposed that non-green plant colouration evolved as a defence against herbivores, either as protective colouration promoting handicap signals indicating plant fitness or by undermining their crypsis. The handicap hypothesis posits a co-evolutionary process between plants and herbivores, whereas the anti-crypsis hypothesis suggests that an arms race between insects and plants is the evolutionary mechanism. Both explanations assume that insects are the evolutionary origin causing plants' colouration. Here, we propose a different hypothesis, termed the “Defence Indication hypothesis”. This idea focuses on the multiple protective functions of anthocyanins and carotenoids as pigments, and suggests that plant colouration evolved primarily in response to various stressors. Because pigments and defensive compounds share a common biosynthesis, the production of pigments also provides elevated defensive strengths against herbivores, a process termed priming. In effect, the Defence Indication hypothesis predicts that pleiotropic effects of the pigments and, more generally, plants' shared defence responses, explain why insects might react to plant colouration. BioEssays 28:65–71, 2006. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.