Arabidopsis thaliana
Flickr/Photo by BlueRidgeKitties (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

How Plants Become Zombies

For those of you who didn’t know, plants can become zombies, too. Researchers have discovered how phytoplasmas, or bacterial parasites, can wreak havoc on Arabidopsis flowers, causing them to become sterile and part of the living dead. The parasites are spread when insects known as leafhoppers leap from plant to plant, dribbling saliva. Once infected, the plants stop forming flowers and are no longer able to reproduce, becoming hosts that live only to benefit the survival of the bacteria. The findings are published this week in PLOS Biology.

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