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Researchers Discover New Plant "Language" 70

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-does-the-ficus-say? dept.
An anonymous reader writes A Virginia Tech scientist has discovered a potentially new form of plant communication, that allows them to share genetic information with one another. Jim Westwood, a professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science, found evidence of this new communication mode by investigating the relationship between dodder, a parasitic plant, and the flowering plant Arabidopsis and tomato plants to which it attaches and sucks out nutrients with an appendage called a haustorium. Westwood examined the plants' mRNA, the molecule in cells that instructs organisms how to code certain proteins that are key to functioning. MRNA helps to regulate plant development and can control when plants eventually flowers. He found that the parasitic and the host plants were exchanging thousands of mRNA molecules between each other, thus creating a conversation.
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Researchers Discover New Plant "Language"

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  • Communication? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Sunday August 17, 2014 @12:30PM (#47689409)

    He found that the parasitic and the host plants were exchanging thousands of mRNA molecules between each other, thus creating a conversation.

    I think this is a little bit of a misuse / misunderstanding of the term / concept "communication".

  • Re:Communication? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Livius (318358) on Sunday August 17, 2014 @01:11PM (#47689613)

    The 'communication' is massively exaggerated. It's simply host manipulation, which is not at all new, and what they've discovered is the phenomenon of a kind of information transfer - they have not discovered any form of language beyond what they already knew about mRNA.

    To the scientists' credit, demonstrating host manipulation by a parasitic plant, with physical injection of mRNA as the mechanism, is pretty cool and maybe will lead to all sorts of interesting science and practical applications.

    Probably it is just that the 'journalist' does not understand the meaning of the word 'communication'.

  • Re:Communication? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rutulian (171771) on Sunday August 17, 2014 @03:23PM (#47690195)

    FYI, the scientists who did the work did not report it as "communication." As usual, the popular science writers were a bit over zealous in their choice of words.

    http://www.phdcomics.com/comic... [phdcomics.com]

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