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Aristolochia mimics stink bugs to repel vertebrate herbivores via TRPA1 activation.

Yu, Yu-Long; Ge, Jia; Dong, Wen-Qi; Chomicki, Guillaume; Yang, Shi-Long; Geng, Yupeng; Chen, Gao


Yu-Long Yu

Jia Ge

Wen-Qi Dong

Shi-Long Yang

Yupeng Geng

Gao Chen


Mimicry is the phenomenon in which one species (the mimic) closely resembles another (the model), enhancing its own fitness by deceiving a third party into interacting with it as if it were the model. In plants, mimicry is used primarily to gain fitness by withholding rewards from mutualists or deterring herbivores cost-effectively. While extensive work has been documented on putative defence mimicry, limited investigation has been conducted in the field of chemical mimicry. In this study, we used field experiments, chemical analyses, behavioural assays, and electrophysiology, to test the hypothesis that the birthwort Aristolochia delavayi employs chemical mimicry by releasing leaf scent that closely resembles stink bug defensive compounds and repels vertebrate herbivores. We show that A. delavayi leaf scent is chemically and functionally similar to the generalized defensive volatiles of stink bugs and that the scent effectively deters vertebrate herbivores, likely through the activation of TRPA1 channels via (E)-2-alkenal compounds. This study provides an unequivocal example of chemical mimicry in plants, revealing intricate dynamics between plants and vertebrate herbivores. Our study underscores the potency of chemical volatiles in countering vertebrate herbivory, urging further research to uncover their potentially underestimated importance. [Abstract copyright: © 2023 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2023 New Phytologist Foundation.]


Yu, Y., Ge, J., Dong, W., Chomicki, G., Yang, S., Geng, Y., & Chen, G. (2024). Aristolochia mimics stink bugs to repel vertebrate herbivores via TRPA1 activation. New Phytologist, 242(1), 278-288.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 31, 2023
Online Publication Date Nov 20, 2023
Publication Date 2024-04
Deposit Date Mar 22, 2024
Journal The New phytologist
Print ISSN 0028-646X
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 242
Issue 1
Pages 278-288
Keywords mimicry, TRPA1, Aristolochia, chemical defence, olfactory cues, kleptoparasite
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