Research Highlights | Published:

Plant biology

Leafy master of disguise

Nature volume 509, page 10 (01 May 2014) | Download Citation

A climbing vine can mimic the leaves of any of a dozen host trees, possibly helping it to resist predation by herbivores.

Image: Oscar Godoy

Ernesto Gianoli and Fernando Carrasco-Urra of the University of Concepción in Chile looked at 45 samples of the vine Boquila trifoliolata (pictured, left), which lives in the temperate South American rainforest. The duo found that vines adapt 9 leaf features, including size, shape and colour, to mimic the leaves of any of 12 different host species (pictured, Rhaphithamnus spinosus; right).

Other plants are capable of mimicry, but no plant has been described before that can change its appearance to match that of so many different hosts.

Curr. Biol. http://doi.org/sjg (2014)

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https://doi.org/10.1038/509010c

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