Terpenes: The Most Common Language in the World | Summary and Q&A

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July 23, 2017
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Terpenes: The Most Common Language in the World

TL;DR

Terpenes, chemical compounds that give scents and flavors, are used by organisms to communicate within and across species.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What are terpenes and how are they defined?

Terpenes are a class of chemical compounds with a specific structure and function. They are defined by their multipurpose nature and composed of isoprene subunits.

Q: How do terpenes contribute to communication between species?

Terpenes can be used as pheromones within the same species or as signals between different kingdoms of life, allowing for communication and interaction.

Q: How do plants utilize terpenes for defense mechanisms?

Plants release terpenes as a chemical cry for help when under attack by herbivores. These terpenes attract natural predators or parasites of the attacking organisms.

Q: Have scientists observed reciprocal communication using terpenes?

Yes, researchers have observed instances where terpenes emitted by one organism elicit responses and terpene emission from another organism, suggesting more of an actual conversation.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Terpenes are a diverse group of chemical compounds used for communication purposes in various organisms.

  • They can be used for communication within the same species (pheromones) or between different species.

  • Terpenes play roles in attracting pollinators, repelling insects, and signaling for help among plants.

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