Divergent Antiherbivore Syndromes in the Tarweeds
From Jeff Layne
PERT Postdoctoral Fellow,
Department of Entomology, University of Arizona
Dr. Billy Krimmel studies how plants maximize their fitness using resistance techniques by focusing on a common California weed. The tarweed is native to California; it historically played a part in the survival of indigenous people, as the seeds were used by the Pomo Indians as a source of food. Today, hikers know it as an annoying plant that sticks to their pants and socks. The tarweed is part of a group of species known as “Sticky Plants.” As Dr. Krimmel explains, the tarweed is covered with hairs, which have microscopic bubbles at their ends. When something, such as a predatory insect, touches the bubble, it pops and a sticky liquid is excreted, along with a strong odor. This makes the plant surface inaccessible, and dead insects sometimes can be seen stuck to the surface of tarweeds.
Recorded: February 27, 2015