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Pest insect gets plants to transmit false information to other plants

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Whitefly/ CC BY-SA 3.0

The sapsucking pest, well known to tomato gardeners as the whitefly (Bemisia tabaci,), causes plants to emit odors that warn other plants against pests other than insects:

Plant defense chemistry often poses this one-or-the-other dilemma. To put up a good fight against insects, plants typically rev up a system of defenses controlled by the hormone jasmonic acid, or JA. But throwing that system into full gear suppresses the defenses controlled by salicylic acid, SA, which are more useful against pathogens.

The pathogen prep may not be a complete waste of effort for the plants. Whiteflies function like mosquitoes for plants, spreading viruses and other diseases. Even drops of whitefly pee, sometimes called honeydew, attract sooty mold.Susan Milius, “A major crop pest can make tomato plants lie to their neighbors” at ScienceNews

Of course, the strategy mainly benefits the whitefly. The article goes on to talk about information based strategies to fight back. Will that be a key part of pest control in the future? A war of information?

The world of life is probably mostly information, not matter. And what is the source of information?

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See also: See also: Plants turn out to have a “nervous system” It’s constructed differently from an animal one.


Can plants be as smart as animals? Seeking to thrive and grow, plants communicate extensively, without a mind or a brain

>Even drops of whitefly pee, sometimes called honeydew,... No amount of marketing is going to get me to call that "honeydew"! EDTA

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