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Pollinator manipulators

Plant laces nectar with poison to better control visitors

By
1:08pm, August 28, 2008
Scientists investigating a desert weed have uncovered a high-stakes world of gambling, sex and poison-laced cocktails. The study, appearing in the Aug. 29 Science, details how a species of wild tobacco cunningly manipulates its pollinators for the sake of the plant’s children.

The research, which was done with “surgical precision,” demonstrates that the plants take an active role in their fate, comments Rob Raguso of CornellUniversity. “They are behaving — they are not passive players,” he says. “These plants are calling the shots.”

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