Phytochemical mimicry of reproductive hormones and modulation of herbivore fertility by phytoestrogens.
Plants have physical and chemical mechanisms for defense from attack by animals. Phytochemical defenses that protect plants from attack by insects include antifeedants, insecticides, and insect growth regulators. Phytochemical options exist by which plants can modulate the fertility of the other major group of plant predators, vertebrate herbivores, and thereby reduce cumulative attacks by those herbivores. The success of such a defense depends upon phytochemical mimicry of vertebrate reproductive hormones. Phytoestrogens do mimic reproductive hormones and are proposed to be defensive substances produced by plants to modulate the fertility of herbivores.
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