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What is chemical communication in plants ? Plants relay on chemical signals to communicate with each other and themselves. Some of these chemicals are volatile (known as volatile organic compounds) and can be released from leaves, fruits, and flowers. VOCs play various roles in plant development, survival, and gene expression.

What sends and receives these signals? Three main type of plant-to plant signaling are known: interspecific, with plants of other species; intraspecific, with plants of the same species; and autosignaling, within the same plant, either internally or exernally. For example, bean plant leaves, infested with spider mites release volatiles that increase the resistance of uninfested bean plants nearby.

Plants also can communicate with insects. For example, corn, cotton, and tobacco under attack by caterpillars emit volatiles that simultaneously attract parasitic wasps to eat the caterpillers and discourage other worms and moths from laying their eggs on the platns.

What type of chemicals are used? A variety of different compounds, including fatty acid derivatives and ethylene have been implicated in plant communication. Transgenic tobacco plants engineered to be insensitive to ethylene over grow their neighbours, while wild-type plants do not, which suggests a role for theylene in controlling social behaviour.

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