Undersoil signals, mycorrhizal surprise, sacrificial plant

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

I posted this article on another thread, but it got buried, I think. I decided it deserves its own thread! Is it just me, or is this not absolutely fascinating? And what does it mean for our own gardens. Any thoughts?
Here's the link to the article:


Or if you're in a hurry, here is the conclusion, excerpted below:
As the researchers allowed single plants in the sets to be infested with aphids, they found that if the infested plant was connected to another by the mycorrhizae, the un-infested plant began to mount its chemical defence.

"Mycorrhizal fungi need to get [products of photosynthesis] from the plant, and they have to do something for the plant," explained John Pickett of Rothamsted Research.

"In the past, we thought of them making nutrients available from the [roots and soil], but now we see another evolutionary role for them in which they pay the plant back by transmitting the signal efficiently," he told BBC News.

Prof Pickett expressed his "abject surprise that it was just so powerful - just such a fantastic signalling system".

The finding could be put to use in many crops that suffer aphid damage, by arranging for a particular, "sacrificial" plant to be more susceptible to aphid infestation, so that when aphids threaten, the network can provide advance notice for the rest of the crop.

"Now we've got a chance in a really robust manner of switching on the defence when it is needed - not straining the plant to do it all the time - and to reduce the development of resistance (of the aphids to the plants' defences)," Prof Pickett said.

This message was edited May 23, 2013 10:48 AM

Milton, MA(Zone 6a)

Yes, that IS amazing. Thanks for posting.

San Tan Valley, AZ(Zone 9b)

That is interesting! Aphids and spider mites are my 2 biggest pest problems. I wonder if there is anything that will work like that with the spider mites?

Provo, UT(Zone 5a)

thanks for reposting liseP >>>
not on this specific topic..but myco inoculation/companion planting..and
the interconnected relations each plant has..and the fungus..
i am finding sucess with use of both endo/ecto myco inoculants with my tropicals
especially my amorphophallus..and alocasia/colocasias
again i know im stretchinnnnnggggg your discussion here..but the more diverse
our soils,plantings.. when "crap" happens..whether its extremes in weather,lack of
water,bug infestation,unwelcome fungus/bacterials.. the plants that have "help"
from these benificial plants/and or mycos have a better chance to survive or thrive..
again..much thanks !!!

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

Thank you, Lise!

Talihina, OK

Lise Thank you I have long suspected a secret comunication in plants but now i know it as fact

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