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Genetic differences in clover make one type toxic | The Source | Washington University in St. Louis
David Kilper/WUSTL PhotoOlsen is studying the genetics of two types of clover to determine why one type is cyanogenic (toxic) and the other is not.That clover necklace you make for your child could well be a ring of poison. That's because some clovers have evolved genes that help the plant produce cyanide — to protect itself against little herbivores, such as snails, slugs and voles, that eat clover. Other clover plants that do not make cyanide are found in climates with colder temperatures. So, in picking your poison, er, clover, ecology and geography play important roles. A plant evolutionary biologist at Washington University in St. Louis is trying to get to the bottom of this botanical cloak and dagger tale.