Friday, September 29, 2006

 

Parasitic plants sniff out hosts (Text + Video)

Parasitic plants do not haphazardly flail about looking for a host but sense volatile chemicals produced by other plants and identify potential hosts by their emissions, according to a team of Penn State chemical ecologists.

"We are interested in how plants respond to their environment, and have looked at plant insect interactions," says Dr. Consuelo M. De Moraes, assistant professor of entomology. "It was surprising to see how little was available on how above-ground parasitic plants find their hosts from far-off."

The researchers looked at Cuscuta pentagona, field dodder or five angle dodder, a plant that infests a variety of crops including tomatoes, carrots, onions, citrus trees, cranberries and alfalfa and reported their finding in today's (September 29, 2006) issue of the journal Science. Dodder grows throughout the world and is a difficult pest to eliminate because chemicals that kill the parasite also often kill the host plant. [Pennsylvania, Ecology, Evolution, Journal]

Continued at "Parasitic plants sniff out hosts"
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There is a related video "of dodder seedling seeking and finding host tomato plant" here

The journal Science paper is "Volatile Chemical Cues Guide Host Location and Host Selection by Parasitic Plants" (Abstract)

UPDATE: The Washington Post has just publiahed an article on this topic.

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