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Plants speak roundworm for self-defense, study shows

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Nematodes are tiny, ubiquitous roundworms that infect plant roots, causing more than $100 billion in crop damage worldwide each year. New research has found that plants manipulate the worms pheromones to repel infestations, providing insights into how farmers could fight these pests.

Nematodes are tiny, ubiquitous roundworms that infect plant roots, causing more than $100 billion in crop damage worldwide each year. New research has found that plants manipulate the worms’ pheromones to repel infestations, providing insights into how farmers could fight these pests.

Led by faculty member Frank Schroeder, the group studied a group of chemicals called ascarosides, which the worms produce and secrete to communicate with each other. As described in a paper published Jan. 10 in Nature Communications, the researchers have shown that plants also talk to nematodes by metabolizing ascarosides and secreting the metabolites back into the soil.

It’s not only that the plant can sense or smell a nematode, said Schroeder, a professor at Boyce Thompson Institute and a professor of chemistry and chemical biology in Cornells College of Arts and Sciences. It’s that the plant learns a foreign language, then broadcasts something in that language to spread propaganda that ‘this is a bad place. Plants mess with nematodes communications system to drive them away.

See full article at Agropages

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