Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Candy Corns?


In my recent post "Long Island," I included a photograph of an unidentified parasite clustered on the leaf of a grape vine (see the image near the bottom of the original post). I could not determine what species or even what manner of parasite these growths represented and I put out an open call for guesses. Only a few people replied.

Of those who did hazard a guess, I believe that Deborah and Updog are on the right track. The "candy corns" are most likely insect eggs. Below, I've excerpted Updog's comment.
"They are, most likely, growths caused by insect eggs. In a staggering display of evolutionary complexity, the insect eggs selectively derepress genes that exist in the plant's DNA. Unlike bacterial galls, which are undifferentiated masses of cells, the insect creates a tiny 'condo' for the larva to live in... cuisinarts, dishwasher and all, so to speak.

Most likely, if you were to break one of those open, you'd find the little grub in there watching 'Queer Eye for the Straight Bug.'

I'm thouroughly blown away by the fact that this sort of selective derepression can go on across the plant/animal kingdom divide."
Thanks to everyone who offered their thoughts and, should anyone get a definitive ID, please let me know.

1 comment:

Ginna P. said...

I read your blog; stumbled onto it through the web page of a friend of a friend who also has a blogspot page & reads you. I guess I'm a little bit of a lurker. But I like to see what you're thinking about, to let you do the work for me on issues I'm interested in but don't take the time to explore. Lazy, lazy. To be fair: you can read me at www.livejournal.com/users/ginnalaska. (Nobody reads me either -- most of my entries are from when I was in Haines AK 4 years ago) When are you coming to Alaska?