Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Touchy-Feely Plants

Touchy-feely plants
Forget talking to plants to help them grow – new research proves touching them with your fingers can make them less susceptible to disease.
A paper in the open access journal BMC Plant Biology reveals that gently rubbing the leaves of thale cress plants between thumb and forefinger activates an innate defence mechanism. Study leader Floriane L’Haridon reports that, within minutes, biochemical changes occur, causing the plant to become more resistant to Botrytiscinerea, the fungus that causes grey mould.
Evolutionary skill
Rubbing the leaves also triggered a host of internal changes: genes related to mechanical stress were activated, levels of reactive oxygen species increased, and the protective outer layer of the leaf became more permeable, presumably to aid the escape of biologically active molecules that contribute to the immune response.
Similar effects occur when plants are physically wounded. Team members previously showed how tearing cress also triggers a strong transient immunity to grey mould fungus. “Wounding and rubbing exemplify how plants can react to a situation that in principle could cause them to become more vulnerable. Instead, they deploy a carefully-orchestrated defence response, an evolutionary skill that that boosts survival,” says L’Haridon.

Source : Nature and Health


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