Parasitic bacteria have learned to turn plants into “zombies”

Scientists have conducted a study to find out how parasitic bacteria from the genus Phytoplasma manage to regulate plant growth and slow down their aging, turning them into “zombies.” The details of the work and the conclusions of scientists are published in the journal Cell.

Over the years, scientists have found several examples of how different organisms parasitize on others. In the process, it loses independent control over its own existence. One of the most impressive examples is the work of fungi from the genus Ophiocordyceps, which control the body of tropical ants, turning them into “zombies”.

In a new study, scientists have found that parasitic bacteria from the genus Phytoplasma have a similar effect, only on plants. The action of microbes causes serious disruptions in development, as a result of which the plants cease to bloom and bear fruit. They get stuck in childhood.

Responsible for this is the bacterial protein SAP05. Its bacteria produce it in large quantities, and then it enters plant tissues and cells. It interferes with the work of the structure, which are responsible for the processing of protein “waste”.

As a result, the plant begins to destroy not only damaged molecules, but also to reduce the activity of the most important signals that are responsible for stopping growth and the transition to flowering and fruiting. Because of this, the plant falls into “eternal childhood” and begins to spend all its resources on the growth of new leaves and shoots, in fact becoming a “zombie”, obeying the will of the bacteria.

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Alexandr Ivanov earned his Licentiate Engineer in Systems and Computer Engineering from the Free International University of Moldova. Since 2013, Alexandr has been working as a freelance web programmer.
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Alexandr Ivanov

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