Plants are miraculous in their functioning ways. They sustain life on earth by producing oxygen. The air we breathe is purified by plants when they take in carbon dioxide. However, several things hurt a plant and hinder its growth. Most of them are external factors like different kinds of pollution. But sometimes it is an intrinsic factor within the plant. Plants have their defense mechanisms to protect themselves from bugs and other harmful pests. However, it is interesting to know that these mechanisms adversely affect them. Read this article about plant don’t grow well on high alert.
Protective Mechanisms Of Plants
To protect their leaves from consumption and damage by bugs and pests, plants make a bitter chemical. This chemical is then transported and spread through their leaves. The JAZ genes in the plant DNA help them regulate their defense chemicals. These genes are in charge of producing these bitter chemicals that impart the leaves with a bitter taste. The simple logic behind is that if the leaves taste bitter, bugs will not like their taste and hence, spare them.
However, producing these chemicals requires a lot of energy. The plant could otherwise use this amount of energy for growth and reproduction. Therefore, it leads to stunted growth and a low amount of seed production. Also, the seeds produced are less viable.
When a plant is busy protecting itself from threats, it is on ‘high alert.’ It is directing valuable energy in the manufacture of the defense chemicals that cause the plant to be exhausted. As a result, it cannot grow to its full potential. Neither can it produce seeds to its full potential. Plants on ‘high alert’ mode close the stomata on their leaves, through which they absorb carbon dioxide. Closing the stomata blocks the absorption of the gas. Carbon dioxide starvation affects plant growth and overall health.
Apart from the one mentioned above, plants have many different defense mechanisms in place to protect themselves from threats.
The most common form of defense is when they create a waxy and thick cuticle or hard barks to prevent all kinds of external agents, including birds, animals, and insects from eating them. Thorns and spines are other forms of defense to fight off external threats.
In many cases, plants produce chemicals that are lethal when consumed by birds, animals, or insects. Hence, such plants are entirely incapable of consumption. Also, plants can make and release chemicals that can heal any external injuries sustained on their leaves or stems.
Sometimes, plants can close their micropores called the stomata as a way to stop the entry of microbes and harmful bacteria. Another rapid and hyperactive defense mechanism is when they kill their cells in a bid to destroy the infected cells and stop their spread.
In specific cases, plants release certain chemicals through their roots that attract microbes that are good for it and help fight the infection.
There are many other known and unknown ways that plants protect themselves.