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Science

Zombie Plants Help To Spread Bacterial Pathogen 38

Posted by Soulskill
from the eschews-brains-for-sunlight dept.
bmahersciwriter writes: "We've all heard stories about how parasites can 'zombify' organisms, getting them to mindlessly protect a brood or infect their peers. Now UK researchers have figured out how one bacterial pathogen co-opts the behavior of a plant, causing it to attract sap-sucking insects that help the bacteria spread to other plants. From the story in Nature News: 'The plant appears alive, but it's only there for the good of the pathogen,' says plant pathologist Saskia Hogenhout from the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK. 'In an evolutionary sense, the plant is dead and will not produce offspring.' 'Many might balk at the concept of a zombie plant because the idea of plants behaving is strange,' says David Hughes, a parasitologist at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. 'But they do, and since they do, why wouldn't parasites have evolved to take over their behavior, as they do for ants and crickets?'"
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Zombie Plants Help To Spread Bacterial Pathogen

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  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @06:56PM (#46700329)

    That's a immune system response, not common to any particular pathogen. Along with increased body temperature.
    The extra snot in your nose contains virophages that actually attack other viruses before entering your body.

    In this case the bacteria makes the plant turn its flowers into leaves. Making the plant sterile but attracting the insect vectors it needs to spread. One of the key parts of the definition of life has been removed - the ability to reproduce.

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