Nature

12
May

Fungal Network Helps Plants Communicate

Below ground, plants are connected by fungi called mycorrhizae. According to new research, this subterranean network actually helps plants alert each other to potential aphid attacks. Here’s an excerpt from the BBC:

Many plants have a chemical armoury that they deploy when aphids attack, with chemicals that both repel the aphids and attract parasitic wasps that are aphids’ natural predators.

Researchers found that if an infested plant was connected to another by the mycorrhizae, the un-infested plant also launched its chemical onslaught. The discovery might yield improvements in agriculture:

The finding could be put to use in many crops that suffer aphid damage, by arranging for a particular, “sacrificial” plant to be more susceptible to aphid infestation, so that when aphids threaten, the network can provide advance notice for the rest of the crop.

Plants help each other in other ways, too. Learn more about plants’ altruistic tendencies.