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Visual and acoustic cues may serve as aposematic signals that warn predators of poisonous foods. Olfactory aposematism, the use of innocuous odors as warning signals for toxic foods, is another possible means of alerting an animal that a potential food item is unpalatable. Although it has been suggested that olfactory aposematism might be the principle mode of warning utilized by plants in their defense against herbivores, experimental evidence is lacking. This study demonstrates that the opossum,Didelphis virginiana, can utilize an innocuous volatile compound found naturally in a mushroom as a warning signal for a delayed illness caused by mushroom toxin. This supports the contention that characteristic odors of toxic plants may serve a warning function, protecting herbivores from being poisoned and plants from being consumed.
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- Olfactory aposematism
Journal of Chemical Ecology
Volume 11, Issue 9 , pp 1289-1295
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Kluwer Academic Publishers-Plenum Publishers
- Additional Links
- Didelphis virginiana
- mushroom volatile
- Industry Sectors
- Scott Camazine (1)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Division of Biological Sciences, Cornell University, 14853, Ithaca, New York