A potentially new form of plant communication has been developed by the scientist. With this language, extraordinary amount of genetic information can be shared with each other.
The relationship between a dodder, tomatoes, Arabiopsis, 2 host plants and a parasitic plant was examined by Professor Jim Westwood. For sucking the nutrients and moisture from the host plants, an appendage named haustorium is used for penetrating the plant. It was also found out that RNA is transported between 2 species during this parasitic interaction. Information which is passed down from the DNA, which is the blueprint of the organism is translated.
With his new work, this scope is expanded and the messenger RNA or the mRNA is expanded, through which messages within the cells are sent telling them what actions have to be taken and which proteins have to be coded. It was thought that the mRNA is very short lived and fragile and so it is unimaginable to transfer it between species. However, it was found by Westwood that during this parasitic relationship, there was exchange of 1000s of molecules between both plants. An open dialogue is created between the species through which they can communicate freely.
Jim Westwood, the professor of weed science, physiology and pathology at Virginia Tech says that “The discovery of this novel form of inter-organism communication shows that this is happening a lot more than any one has previously realized,”. He also said that now that it has been found that information is being shared, the next question is as to what they are communicating.
With this exchange, the host plant may be dictated by the parasitic plants as to what should be done, such as lowering the defenses so that it can be easily attacked by the parasitic plant. The next project of Westwood is aimed at finding out what mRNA are communicating.