Study: Plants are smarter than we think

Oct. 21, 2008 at 12:58 PM
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NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists have discovered when a leaf of a plant is attacked by a pathogen, the plant's roots can secret an acid that contains beneficial bacteria.

University of Delaware researchers say their finding contradicts the misperception that plants are "sitting ducks," at the mercy of passing pathogens. The finding also sheds new light on a sophisticated signaling system inside plants that rivals the nervous system in humans and animals.

The research led by Assistant Professor Harsh Bais involved Associate Professor Kirk Czymmek, former postdoctoral researcher Thimmaraju Rudrappa and Paul Pare, a biochemist at Texas Tech University.

"Plants are a lot smarter than we give them credit for," said Bais. "People think that plants, rooted in the ground, are just sitting ducks when it comes to attack by harmful fungi or bacteria, but we've found that plants have ways of seeking external help."

The study is reported in the November issue of the journal Plant Physiology.

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