Chemical defense

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Chemical defense is the use of compounds by plants and animals to deter herbivory and predation.

In plants

Chemical defense against herbivory is common. The production of capsaicin in many strains of bell peppers is one such defense familiar to humans.

In animals

Chemical defense is most common in insects, but the skunk is a particularly dramatic mammalian example. Other examples include the bombardier beetle which can accurately shoot a predator with a stream of boiling poison, the ornate moth which excretes a frothy alkaloid mixture, and the Pacific beetle cockroach sprays a quinone mixture from modified spiracles. Marine invertebrate animals also harbor chemical defenses, particularly tropical marine sponges.1


  1. ^ Pawlik, J. R. (2011). "The chemical ecology of sponges on Caribbean reefs: Natural products shape natural systems.". BioScience 61: 888–898. 

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