Researchers may have discovered a previously unknown form of plant chatter that allows parasitic species and their hosts to share an astonishing amount of genetic information. The finding is exciting not only because it opens up an intriguing new field of research, but it could also lead to the development of novel strategies to tackle parasitic weeds that threaten food crops. The study has been published in Science.
It’s been known for some time that bits of information-containing material can shuffle between cells of a single plant. This material, which is called RNA, is produced from DNA and is used in the production of proteins. While this intercellular RNA movement has been studied extensively, scientists had not explored whether RNA transfer could occur between species until now.
For the present study, Virginia Tech researchers chose to investigate information sharing between a parasitic plant, dodder (C. pentagona), and…
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