Evolution in a toxic world

How life responds to chemical threats

Chemical warfare

Poison ivy foliage contains urushiol.
Poison Ivy produces urushiol oil

In comparison to invertebrates, microbes and most importantly, plants, humans are amateurs when it comes to chemical production and chemical warfare. While we refer to the first chemical revolution as a period beginning in the eighteenth century, a time when chemistry was demystified and humans began producing and creating synthetic and organic chemicals, we are hundreds of millions of years behind nature’s chemical revolution. A revolution driven in large part by plants (and some animals).  Not to be deterred predators evolved an array of defenses from enzyme driven detox to avoidance.  The papers in this section will highlight research focused on animal defenses to plant (and sometimes animal) toxins.

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