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Book Chapter

Chemical ecology of bracken ferns

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Boland,  Wilhelm
Department of Bioorganic Chemistry, Prof. Dr. W. Boland, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Venkatesan,  Radhika
Department of Bioorganic Chemistry, Prof. Dr. W. Boland, MPI for Chemical Ecology, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Agarwal, K., Haldar, S., Boland, W., & Venkatesan, R. (2018). Chemical ecology of bracken ferns. In L. Nowicki (Ed.), Ferns: Ecology, Importance to Humans and Threats (pp. 58-96). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002E-8788-7
Abstract
Ferns are among the oldest vascular plant lineages with origins dating back to the Devonian period. Bracken (Pteridium sp., Dennstaedtiaceae) is one of the most widespread and invasive fern species known to cause various ecological, economic and social concerns worldwide. This chapter highlights the important aspects of Bracken chemical ecology including its distribution pattern, interactions and defense. The chapter starts with the description of the global distribution pattern of Bracken delineating its ubiquitous nature followed by its interplay with abiotic factors such as soil-nutrients and fire. Further, interactions of Brackens with insects, microbes, plants and humans are discussed in detail. Various direct and indirect defense mechanisms employed by Brackens to deter pathogens and herbivores are reviewed. Brackens’ chemical defense, especially norsesquiterpenoid glycoside ‘ptaquiloside’ is discussed in detail from its discovery and isolation to its reactivity towards biomolecules and potential impact on human health. The chapter concludes by raising a few fundamental research questions and resolving them which might help in understanding the ecological and evolutionary success of the plant.