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Defiant-Peace-493 t1_jacnojo wrote

Oh, there are a whole host of plant defensive toxins that don't merely not work, but have actively made us pursue them. Compounds with fungicidal or insecticidal properties are often quite tasty … or psychoactive.

See, for instance, Transgenic tobacco plants producing caffeine: a potential new strategy for insect pest control


TheRhythmZ t1_jacsc3y wrote

Lmao capsaicin normally induces so much pain it drives animals mad. It literally destroys nerve endings by injecting them with an obscene ammount of calcium. Its one of the worlds worst irritants, since it leaves aside the "actually being toxic" side of irritants to focus solely in inducing as much pain as its physically capable of.

Capsaicin is the "spicy" chemical found in chili peppers. Rotflmao.


Defiant-Peace-493 t1_jacsthl wrote

That reminds me, time to crack open that ghost/reaper hot sauce I picked up!


Mornar t1_jae83s4 wrote

Not hot enough unless it burns on both input and output!


waddapfurfee t1_jad31bi wrote

And then there are birds, who eat it up without batting an eye. Wonder how


Ignisami t1_jad62mc wrote

They don't have the receptors that capsaicin binds to, and thus are entirely immune to its effects.


I_Automate t1_jadqg6d wrote

This is selected for.

The peppers want to avoid being eaten by land animals, who would shit their seeds out nearby. But they DO want to be eaten by birds, who will shit their seeds out far away, thus spreading the species.

So....make a defense mechanism that is super effective against land animals, but has no effect on birds.


IIOrannisII t1_jadu0cx wrote

Also, birds do not masticate and so will not damage the seeds whenever they eat them, whereas those land animals will oftentimes grind the seeds down with their molars destroying the seeds ability to reproduce.


axialintellectual t1_jaduryl wrote

Good thing too that the one land animal mad enough to think they're tasty is also mad enough to domesticate them and plant them everywhere, so it's a win for the peppers anyway.


I_Automate t1_jadxzyc wrote

...mad enough to selectively breed and genetically modify them to be even more painful, because we just love the pain.

If that doesn't say something about us I don't know what does.

EDIT- Relevant comic.



Squigglepops t1_jae58sq wrote

Painful AND pretty - can't just have pain. Has took like it was birthed in hellfire too.


VictorytheBiaromatic t1_jaew6o1 wrote

Well it is more of a byproduct since the levels of capsaicin only increase with increased presence of water in the environment and it only gets stronger as it ripens. So it is more likely that the plant uses the compound as an antifungal with its ability to ward off unsuitable animals be a byproduct


Zorro5040 t1_jadjco8 wrote

The lack the receptors, leaving them without the ability to taste. Not sure if birds developed it to eat plants or if plants developed it so only birds eat it. Either way, birds are the ones who carry and spread the seeds.


AllysiaAius t1_jad3w0w wrote

Humans aren't alone in that, though. Birds aren't susceptible to it either, and love dried peppers.


badrabbitman t1_jadcgwu wrote

Well, we are alone in the fact that we choose to eat it despite the chemical defense working on us. Birds simply can't feel it, as they don't have the receptors for the chemical.


Zorro5040 t1_jadkx2v wrote

Idk, my dog has learned to like spicy food. I started eating more spicy food to disuade my dogs from asking or trying to steal, and one of them liked it and has built some tolerance. He also loves green veggies like celery, lettuce and spinach. So far the only thing he doesn't like are bananas, he'll eat a small piece then refuse more.


wolfguidingcrow t1_jae1blj wrote

My parents used to have a problem with rabbits eating all the bark off the lilac trees in their yard during the winter. They forgot to put burlap around the trunks before the snow fell that year. So one winter they coated the bark with hot sauce to try and get the rabbits to leave the trees alone.

Doing so had no effect, and my dad swears it actually increased how much bark the rabbits ate off the trees. From that year onwards, they always made sure to put the burlap on early.


send-borbs t1_jaeuog5 wrote

the rabbits were probably very grateful to your parents for seasoning their food, not a luxury they'd get often


TheRhythmZ t1_jadc165 wrote

I think its because they have no permeability on their tongues. Meaning moisture cannot penetrate it, so the calcium cannot penetrate and hurt their nerve endings. Or maybe its the lack of moisture overall, since they have no saliva, so they have no medium to carry the capsaicin to the inside of the flesh on their tongues. Fun fact: that's why the expression "it's glued on with bird saliva" means the thing is not glued/nailed/screwed on properly and could fall appart at any moment.


Errant0 t1_jaeod23 wrote

Can relate! had a massive bug poison exposure last year. Poison control and the doctor were both absolutely amazed I wasn't... expired.

Turns out the smoking habit I have from military service had blocked off some chemical receptor in my system that... didn't make me immune, but tolerant on a level they hadn't seen before.

I need to quit smoking but it saved my life in that one instance.

That's when I was educated about the entire reason plants produce nicotine... it's a pesticide that humans... like?


LurkerOrHydralisk t1_jadv6c4 wrote

Woah woah woah... caffeinated cigs?

I'm gonna start smoking. That sounds awesome.


WesternOne9990 t1_jaeqpcv wrote

THC is one and many other similar compounds. Like you said caffeine and nicotine are others.