Apple Poison Seeds
What evolutionary advantage would there be for poision to
be in apple seeds?
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:
Anthony R. Brach, PhD
Missouri Botanical Garden
c/o Harvard University Herbaria
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Update: June 2012