The Walking Dead ‘Plants’ – The Zombie Plants Among Us?

It’s still April but this is no prank, even though it might sound like something along the lines of the Plants vs. Zombies mobile game. Word is that scientists now have proof that plants could exhibit zombie characteristics in their own special way. The vulnerability of some specific crops paves way for parasites to take over and force them to act the way they wish. This isn’t unheard of in animals either; take a certain kind of spider in Costa Rica that would abandon its own web to make one that suited the intruder wasp better. What a cruel world!

Host plants

JIC Photography

Flowering plants would normally lead a happy and healthy life. They would grow petals, fruit and flowers. What happens if they are ‘possessed’ by an intruder? Here’s what happens: leafhoppers are tiny insects that transmit pathogens causing these plants to stray from their normal growth process. Instead, they grow structures that resemble green leaves which are merely food for those leafhoppers. The plant is only left wanting as the reproduction process comes to halt. Talk about invading somebody’s private property.

Saskia A. Hogenhout is a UK-based biologist and author of a study who terms this as “living death for the plant.” Researchers believe that protein SAP54 interacts with another plant protein type RAD23 to activate and serve under the commands of the intruder by producing leaf tissue. Now that the researchers are aware of the cause, they are determined to develop a cure that could guarantee plants their treatment from these condescending monsters. Atleast we can rest assured there are better ways of putting down these zombies than ‘shooting them in the head’.

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