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Life Science Zurich Communication & Events

Obstacle course for caterpillars

Caterpillar movement between leaves is restricted by the dense spines on leaves and stem in Malevolence (or Purple Devil) Solanum atropurpureum (Image: Rupesh Kariyat / ETH Zürich)

Spines and thorns keep hungry mammals at bay – or at least, that's the conventional wisdom. However, ETH researchers have now shown that spiky growths on plants make life difficult for caterpillars too. This finding could be important for crop breeding.