Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Self Defence Strategies of Moss

Chemists of Jena University discover what spoils the appetite of slugs
Slugs are every gardener’s enemy: They can destroy overnight, what he has sown and looked after lovingly. But snails don’t like all plants in the same way – they shun moss. Why is that so?

This question was already posed by the botanist and founder of Chemical Ecology, Ernst Stahl, at the end of the 19th century in Jena. More than a hundred years later chemists from Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena (Germany) found a possible answer: “Moss is capable of building up chemical compounds that protect them from enemies,” says Prof. Dr. Georg Pohnert of Jena University. Ernst Stahl had come to the same conclusion after tests.

Now the holder of the Chair of Instrumental analytics and his team succeeded in identifying these compounds and in proving their pest repellent properties beyond doubt. The chemists working with Prof. Pohnert published their research results in the latest edition of the german trade journal “Angewandte Chemie”.

What spoils the snails´ appetite for moss are so called oxylipins. “These are compounds which are formed from unsaturated fatty acids by pathways involving oxidation when the moss is being damaged,“ Prof. Pohnert explains. The Jena chemists analysed the moss “Dicranum scoparium”, also known as ordinary Broom Fork-moss that can be found in nearly all European woods. During their research the scientists found many formerly unknown compounds, among them new, very unusual oxylipins.

“Motivated by the observation that in other organisms, oxylipins often work directly as defence metabolites or are part of the regulation of defence mechanisms, we have analysed the impact of these compounds more accurately,” says Prof. Pohnert, who, along with his group, so far focused on the chemical defence strategies of marine organisms. To prove the retardant impact of oxylipins against snail damage, Jena scientists engaged two well known “experts” - the slugs “Arion lusitanicus” which were being offered two salad leaves. One leaf was treated with oxylipins that had been extracted from moss; the other salad leaf had only been sprayed with the solvent methanol. “Almost without exception the snails choose the leaves that didn’t contain oxylipins, even when we diluted the substances a thousand times in comparison to the concentration in moss,” reports Martin Rempt, a postgraduate in Pohnert´s team.

Prof. Pohnert thinks that these results could be used in the future to develop an organic repellent against slugs and other pests. That would be an ecological alternative to so-called “Schneckenkorn” (Snail Poison) that very often poses a potential danger not only for birds and other enemies of snails, but also for pets. The research will be extended to further moss species in the future.

Original publication:
Martin Rempt, Georg Pohnert. Neue acetylenische Oxylipine mit fraßhemmenden Eigenschaften gegen herbivore Schnecken aus dem Moos Dicranum scoparium (p NA). Angewandte Chemie 2010, 122. DOI: 10.1002/ange.201000825

Marie Schneider | idw
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Make way for the mini flying machines
21.03.2018 | American Chemical Society

nachricht New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in
21.03.2018 | American Chemical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>