Bergamotene ̶ alluring and lethal for Manduca sexta

An interdisciplinary team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, has described a gene in Nicotiana attenuata which enables the plant to solve a dilemma that arises when a pollinator is also a dangerous herbivore. The gene NaTPS38 regulates the production of the volatile compound (E)-α-bergamotene. At night, the tobacco flowers produce this odor which is attractive to adult tobacco hawkmoths, while during the day, the tobacco leaves emit the compound to lure predatory bugs to feed on Manduca sexta larvae and eggs. (Mehr in: Pressemitteilungen – idw – Informationsdienst Wissenschaft)