Infected tomato plants give off special aroma that lures pollinators
Edward Sikora/Auburn University, Bugwood.org
Instead of destroying its leafy hosts, one common plant virus takes a more backhanded approach to domination. It makes infected plants more attractive to pollinators, ensuring itself a continued supply of virus-susceptible plant hosts for generations to come.
The strategy might be a way for the virus to discourage resistance from building up in the plant population, University of Cambridge biologist John Carr and colleagues report online August 11 in PLOS Pathogens.
“It looks like the pathogen is cheating a little bit —but in a way that helps its host,” says Carr.
Plants give off cocktails of volatile chemicals that send signals to pollinators, predators and other plants. Carr and his team found that tomato plants infected with cucumber mosaic virus gave off a different cocktail of these chemicals than non-infected plants — and that bumblebees preferred the infected