“So, how do you feel about tendril sex?”
Whether or not plants hear and talk to us, they sure talk among themselves – some of them, at least. This has been established by scientific research in the past: plants communicate to each other via signals in the form of chemicals. Some species of plants, in fact, have sophisticated means of interacting with others of their kinds: while some can share genetic information, others send warning messages of possible insect attacks. The former form of communication entails parasitic plants attaching onto their hosts.
Dodder, which is a parasite, attaches onto the other plant known as Arabidopsis, stealing some of its nutrients in the process via an appendage. However, to have their meal of nutrients, Dodder has to first identify its host. It was previously thought that it uses chemicals to do so. Now, a new study has demonstrated that dodder uses a genetic method: it exchanges RNA with the plant. These two plants thereby ‘talk’ to each other as they exchange pieces of mRNA.
What do they say to each other then? Mystery, mystery. Perhaps, Dodder signals its host to ‘allow’ it to drain its nutrients by tricking it to lower its defenses?
The picture says it all.