From Plant Defenses to Human Medicines

Posted by Laurie Sullivan at 11/25/2008 7:00:00 AM

Free Photo of a Citrus Root Weevil (Diaprepes). Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Guide.com Plants have adaptations that protect them from insect herbivores. The adaptations can be mechanical or chemical. The most effective mechanical defense is toughness, since tough leaves are hard for herbivores to eat. Other mechanical defenses are hairs or prickly spines.

Free Picture of a Red Tipped Cactus. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Guide.com

Plant’s chemical defenses can be used to develop medicines for people. Today, over half the common prescription drugs come from plants and other living things, such as fungi and bacteria. Chemicals from plants have been used to treat headaches, warts, stomachaches, as well as cancer and heart disease. Listen to the Question Bioprospecting is the search for new medicinal plants. Fourth grade students played a game created by the JASON Project to learn about plant defenses and bioprospecting. Afterwards, Mrs. Sullivan quizzed them on what they had learned. Students had to show their responses by moving to either the FACT sign or the FALLACY sign (see photo slideshow below).