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How parasites modify plants to attract insects
Date:11/8/2011

attracted to lay eggs in the bunched branches and stems.

The higher fecundity rate is probably matched by a similar increased rate in transmission of the witches broom phytoplasma by leafhoppers to other plants.

"Phytoplasmas that can enhance egg-laying and offspring numbers in leafhoppers are likely to have a competitive advantage," said Dr Hogenhout.

Given their opportunistic nature, the leafhoppers are likely to migrate to uninfected plants and spread the pathogen.

"This is a vivid example of the extended phenotype, a concept put forward by Richard Dawkins, where an organism's phenotype is based not only on the biological processes within it but also on its impact on its environment," said Dr Hogenhout.

The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and The Gatsby Charitable Foundation. It will be published in PNAS.


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Contact: Zoe Dunford
zoe.dunford@nbi.ac.uk
44-160-325-1490
Norwich BioScience Institutes
Source:Eurekalert  

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