Partners in crime: Agricultural pest that relies on bacteria to overcome plant defenses

The oral secretions of herbivorous insects can activate plant defense mechanisms that protect plant cells from being digested. However, scientists have discovered that some larvae ‘partner up’ with bacteria that help interrupt these plant defense mechanisms. This disrupts the plant’s defenses before the digestive proteins that the larvae smear on them. These findings may help agricultural scientists devise countermeasures that protect important agricultural species from the larvae.