Parasitic Plants May Be Talking To Their Hosts Through MRNA

August 16, 2014 9:28 PM

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If you still have nightmares about the Venus Fly Trap in "Little Shop of Horrors" saying, "Feed me, Seymour," you're not going to be happy about the findings by a Virginia Tech scientist. Jim Westwood, a professor of plant pathology, physiology and weed science, has found plants communicate with each other on a molecular level, but it's still unclear what they're saying to each other.

Westwood looked at the relationship between dodder, a parasitic plant, and two host plants, Arabidopsis and tomatoes. Dodder sucks nutrients out of its hosts with a haustorium, which penetrates the host, transferring thousands of mRNA -- or messenger RNA -- molecules between the plants.

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