Chemical communication: A defense strategy in plants


  • In response to being eaten by caterpillars, plants produce chemicals that caterpillars do not prefer to eat. To measure one of these kinds of chemicals, we need to extract them from the plants.
  • This video shows the process of how scientists study caterpillar behavior and the chemicals that plant produce to stop them from eating them.
  • Students can further explore why insects eat the foods they do through the associated Data Nugget, What’s for dinner?


  • 54 minutes

Information about the Author:

  • Clayton Coffman is graduate student in the Plant Biology and Genetics Program working in the Schultz-Appel Chemical Ecology Lab.
  • For his PhD research project, Clayton is studying how plants use chemical defenses to modify the behavior of the caterpillars that eat them.