This work is largely performed in collaboration with Dr. Michal Samuni-Blank at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. She has recently discovered that a group of rodents have evolved to behaviorally avoid glucosinolates (a.k.a. the "mustard oil bomb") present in fruits [Link]. This behavior may be driven by physiological tolerance to toxins, and may ultimately drive ecological interactions (seed predation or seed dispersal). While the physiological effects and adaptations to glucosinolates have been well studied in insects, the effects on vertebrates are much less understood. We have conducted diet trials to investigate physiological responses of seed predators and seed dispersers.
This work has resulted in the following finding:
1. Seed predators exhibit higher physiological tolerance to fruit toxins compared to seed dispersers. [PDF]
We are also currently investigating:
1. How rodents regulate activities of intestinal and microbial β-glucosidases in order to prevent activating glucosinolates. 2. How rodents regulate expression of intestinal and hepatic detoxification enzymes.
Fruit of Sweet Mignonette
All photos on this page were taken by Dr. Michal Samuni-Blank