This parasite transforms plants into zombies

The mustard plant, which is infested with certain parasites, grows abnormally, and its growth is disturbed by small invaders. The leaves take on unusual shapes, the stems form a shrub called witch hazel, and it can produce fruitless flowers. After all, in the case of eternal adolescence, it is much longer if the brothers are not infected.

“It seems to be living in adolescence,” says Saskia Hoganho, a scientist at the John Innes Center in England, who studies the life cycle of parasites called yellow-yellow phytoplasm.

Neighbors of the plants grow old, starve, and die, but the host of the ptotoplasia continues. With a vampire and a zombie host that serves its body, it is a mixture of tempting insects that suck juice to eat as much of the plant’s body fluids as possible. When the insects enter the parasite, they distribute it to new hosts, and the whole “Night-Meet-Draguli” cycle of the living dead is repeated.

Scientists are curious about how parasites control such a wide range of subjects: phytoplasia can cause destructive diseases in crops such as carrots. In a paper published in the September issue of the magazine Cell, Hogano and colleagues of some of these horrible changes show that they are driven by a single protein called SAP05, which stands in the way of plant maturation.

SAP05 is not the first ingredient in this phytoplasia associated with the symptoms of syphilis. Some time ago, the team identified a few proteins that could be used to alleviate the victims by sequencing the parasite’s genome. But in the new paper, they explain how SAP05 drives some amazing results, such as prolonging life.

SAP05 binds to two plant proteins that regulate the expression of genes used in development. Once trapped, it will cause the garbage disposal machines to collapse. As a result, the plants appear frozen over time, unable to improve.

This is reasonable, in terms of parasites. If the host plants mature regularly, they will produce flowers and seeds, and they will do their best to make the next plant a generation. Soon the leaves drop and wither.

“You can assume that this is not the case for the parachute,” said Hoganhot.

Parasites benefit from the barrenness of the plant and are able to reproduce their energy into microbes. They also keep the plant alive for as long as possible and fill it with delicious juices, so it is best to arrange for insects to feed on it.

Interestingly, in order to achieve this goal, scientists have found that SAP05 is stuck in a very limited cell removal machine. By adjusting the composition of that piece, you can significantly reduce SAP05 results. Plants – in this case Arabic Taliana, A small mustard plant, a typical laboratory model – did not grow into witchcraft brooms with this modification, and they did not live beyond contaminated plants.

This does not mean that they were better. Plants designed to escape SAP05 have a short life when they are caught by pests. SAP05 seems to provide some protection against infection stress, making it easier for the host to carry. Otherwise, the plant may be free to continue maturing, but it is being severely damaged by zombies, which are less susceptible to other effects of parasites. Zombies are protected by a rider.

Hodgkin asserts that this control may be related to the life cycle of salt-eating insects. After insects eat plants, parasites become infected and lay eggs on it. When the parasite takes over, the eggs grow.

By the time the young insects hatch, perhaps 10 days later, only enough time is left for plants to eat their juices before they take off. A good companion for the trip would be a phytoplasia.

“Parasites are now widespread,” says Hoganno.

This article appeared first The New York Times.


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