Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
AgriGenomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Plants Use Underground Networks to Warn of Enemy Attack

Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Plants use underground fungal networks to warn their neighbours of aphid attack.

The study, published in Ecology Letters, is the first to reveal plants' ability to communicate underground in this way. If crops can be managed by exploiting this natural communication channel, it could provide a new weapon in the battle against insect pests.

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen, the James Hutton Institute and Rothamsted Research grew the bean plant (Vicia faba) in groups connected via underground networks of mycelia - a thread-like fungus that grows from one set of roots to another.

Aphids were introduced to one plant in each group, which triggering the release of a suite of chemicals designed to repel attack (see image gallery below). Remarkably, plants in the group which were not under attack themselves, but which were connected via fungal network, also began to produce the defensive chemical response. Plants without the fungal networks didn't mount a chemical defence, so remained vulnerable to aphid attack.

As previous research had shown that plants could communicate chemically through the air, researchers covered the plants to rule out above-ground signalling.

Dr David Johnson, of the University of Aberdeen, led the study. He says: "We knew that plants produce volatile chemicals when attacked, and we knew they communicate danger to each other above ground. Now we know that they communicate danger through these underground fungal networks as well."

The roots of virtually all groups of plants, including important food crops such as wheat, rice, maize and barley, are colonised by symbiotic fungi.

Another of the study's authors, Prof John Pickett of Rothamsted Research, highlighted the potential impact of this research: "Aphids affect all higher-latitude agricultural regions, including the UK, the EU, North America, and North East Asia. This research could provide a new, sustainable and natural intervention. In a field of plants that have some inducible resistance to aphids, we could use a plant that's susceptible to aphid attack to 'switch on' the defence mechanism through the natural underground connection. There's the potential to deal with other pests and diseases, in other regions, in a similar way."


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Expanding the DNA Alphabet: 'Extra' DNA Base Found to be Stable in Mammals
A rare DNA base, previously thought to be a temporary modification, has been shown to be stable in mammalian DNA, suggesting that it plays a key role in cellular function.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Controlling Leaf Blotch Disease In Wheat
Scientists have found a genetic mechanism that could stop the spread of a "devastating" disease threatening wheat crops.
Thursday, February 05, 2015
Rising Temperatures Predicted to Lower Wheat Yields
An international consortium of researchers has used big data sets to predict the effects climate change on global wheat yields.
Friday, December 26, 2014
UK And India Collaborate On Future-Proof Crops
Drought-tolerant tomatoes, improved wheat and grass pea could provide crops for the future.
Friday, November 28, 2014
Better Understanding of Disease Resistance Genes in Crops
Effector-triggered defence concept describes how plants protect themselves against the apoplast.
Friday, June 06, 2014
Public-private Research Partnership to Support Sustainable Agricultural Systems
The partnership will support projects that will help provide solutions to key challenges affecting the sustainability of the UK crop and livestock sectors.
Friday, May 23, 2014
A Synthetic Biology Approach to Improve Photosynthesis
Assembling a compartment inside chloroplasts of flowering plants has the potential to improve the efficiency of photosynthesis.
Friday, May 16, 2014
Green Vaccination: Boosting Plant Immunity Without Side Effects
A team of international researchers has uncovered a mechanism by which plants are able to better defend themselves against disease causing pathogens.
Tuesday, May 06, 2014
Rothamsted Research Granted Permission for new GM Field Trial
Permission granted by Defra for Rothamsted to carry out a field trial with GM Camelina plants that produce omega-3 fish oils in their seeds.
Monday, April 28, 2014
BBSRC, NSF Co-Fund International Arabidopsis Resource

Friday, March 14, 2014
Genetic traits in cattle identified that might allow farmers to breed livestock with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis (TB)
The BBSRC-funded scientists compared the genetic code of TB-infected animals with that of disease-free cattle, could help to impact on a disease that leads to major economic losses worldwide.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
UK Establishes Three New Synthetic Biology Research Centres
Bristol, Nottingham and a Cambridge/Norwich partnership will be UK centres for synthetic biology.
Friday, January 31, 2014
£17.7M for Major Long-Term Research Projects to Harness the Power of Bioscience
Research for agriculture, health, alternatives to fossil fuels, and new commercial products.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Crop-Infecting Virus Forces Aphids to Spread Disease
Viruses alter plant biochemistry in order to manipulate visiting aphids into spreading infection.
Friday, December 06, 2013
Octocopter to Monitor Crops
BBSRC has invested in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology to monitor crops and crop experiments as part of several genetic improvement projects.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Scientific News
Cell Aging Slowed by Putting Brakes on Noisy Transcription
Experiments in yeast hint at ways to extend life of some human cells.
How a Kernel Got Naked and Corn Became King
Ten thousand years ago, a golden grain got naked, brought people together and grew to become one of the top agricultural commodities on the planet.
TOPLESS Plants Provide Clues to Human Molecular Interactions
Scientists at Van Andel Research Institute have revealed an important molecular mechanism in plants that has significant similarities to certain signaling mechanisms in humans, which are closely linked to early embryonic development and to diseases such as cancer.
New Technique for Mining Health-conferring Soy Compounds
A new procedure devised by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists to extract lunasin from soybean seeds could expedite further studies of this peptide for its cancer-fighting potential and other health benefits.
Rice Disease-Resistance Discovery Closes the Loop for Scientific Integrity
Researchers reveal how disease resistant rice detects and responds to bacterial infections.
Pesticide Found in 70 Percent of Massachusetts’ Honey Samples
New Harvard University study says that the pesticide commonly found in honey samples is implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder.
Oxitec ‘Self-Limiting Gene’ Offers Hope for Controlling Invasive Moth
A new pesticide-free and environmentally-friendly way to control insect pests has moved ahead with the publication of results showing that Oxitec diamondback moths (DBM) with a ‘self-limiting gene’ can dramatically reduce populations of DBM.
More Rice, Less Greenhouse Gas?
An international group from China, Sweden and the U.S. has unveiled a genetically modified super rice that has more starch, yet releases a fraction of the harmful gas methane.
Kiwi Bird Genome Sequenced
The kiwi, national symbol of New Zealand, gives insights into the evolution of nocturnal animals.
Yeast Cells Use Signaling Pathway to Modify Their Genomes
Researchers at the Babraham Institute and Cambridge Systems Biology Centre, University of Cambridge have shown that yeast can modify their genomes to take advantage of an excess of calories in the environment and attain optimal growth.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!