(via Scientists think they’ve discovered an entirely new mode of plant communication | The Verge)
Scientists may have discovered a whole new plant language. According to a new study, published today in Science, a parasitic plant called the strangleweed is capable of not only sucking out genetic material from the host plant it invades, but also injecting its own genetic material into its host. This, the researchers say, could simply be a means by which these organisms obtain energy from one another. But a far more interesting possibility is the idea that this might represent an entirely new form of plant communication — one that might give humans an edge when trying to curb invasions from parasitic plants.
"The typical way that plants communicate is through chemicals that they release through their leaves and roots," says James Westwood, a plant physiologist at Virginia Tech and a co-author of the study. "So to find out that there is an exchange of RNA" — the intermediary form of genetic information that fills the gap between DNA and proteins — "is a new concept that hasn’t been explored at all."