Monthly Archives: October 2014

Plants vs. Zombifying Pathogen

Many of us are familiar with the ‘zombie fungus’ (Ophiocordyceps unilateralis) which turns ants into ‘zombies’. The fungus is able to manipulate the ant┬ábehaviour to its own ends, which are to find the best spot to release its spores for reproduction, one of these released spores might land on another ant and the cycle can continue. This is not an isolated case and there are other examples this ‘zombifying’ behaviour in animals, it is also seen in plants.

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How do plants fight back?

It’s well known that animals can fight pathogens using immune cells and antibodies which travel around the body in the blood. Plants lack┬áthese mobile immune cells and they don’t produce antibodies. So, how do plants defend themselves against pathogens?

Tomato leaves exposed to P. syringae

(Figure 1, a diseased and resistant leaf, from apsnet.org)

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