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Parasitic weed ‘sniffs out’ its prey

It may look like a benign spaghetti noodle, but a bizarre parasitic plant has some cunning moves. When the stringy dodder plant emerges from the earth, it sniffs out a plant victim in the first known example of an amazing form of plant communication. Then it sucks the life out of the other plant. Considered an agricultural pest, the dodder relies solely on other plants to survive and infests a variety of crops, including tomatoes, carrots and alfalfa, earning it a spot on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Top Ten Weeds List.

Now, scientists from Pennsylvania State University have discovered that the parasitic weed can sense airborne chemicals released by host plants and then steer in that direction. The finding, detailed in Friday’s issue of the journal Science, shows for the first time that plants can “chatter” with one another, helping to resolve a decades-long debate about whether volatile chemicals are involved in plant-to-plant interactions.

Read the original article at: msnbc

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