The preceding chapters demonstrate that there is no single best defence strategy, and that the nutritional wealth of the plant—together with its social context—determines in large part how much it will invest in defence. Defence expediture by the leaf is also proportional to attack pressure and the plant’s ability to tolerate attack or to escape in space or time. Leaves and digestive tracts have co-evolved, and this is seen in many molecular defences which are themselves often inducible during attack. Defence inducibility is controlled through the jasmonate pathway, a signalling mechanism that also influences plant growth. Future agriculture will need to exploit our knowledge of the jasmonate pathway, either by increasing its activity in order to reinforce plant defences, or by selectively reducing its activity to increase the digestibility of certain foods. The possibility to better exploit leaves as sources of amino acids is discussed.
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