Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Apple Poison Seeds
Name: Tori
Grade: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A


Question:
What evolutionary advantage would there be for poision to be in apple seeds?


Replies:
It prevents seed predation. There is a substantial difference to the plant between having its seeds eaten and excreted live and having its seeds actually chewed and digested. Seeds eaten and excreted can sprout in dung, which is a pretty good way for a sprout to begin life. A seed that is eaten and digested is finished before it can start.

The poison in apple seeds is not released unless the seed is crushed. Simply swallowing the seeds whole is no problem: they just pass through, and it does not hurt the seed. The poison protects seeds from essentially being killed and eaten. So the evolutionary advantage is obvious. If the seeds punish animals who destroy them, fewer will be destroyed by animals and more will live to have offspring.

Richard Barrans, Ph.D., M.Ed.
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Wyoming


It is not much but perhaps a deterrent to herbivory or eating the plant:

http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/apples.asp

Anthony R. Brach, PhD
Missouri Botanical Garden
c/o Harvard University Herbaria



Click here to return to the Botany Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory