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1 item from 2014

Microscopic Parasite Turns Ordinary Plants Into Zombies

11 April 2014 10:00 AM, PDT | FEARnet | See recent FEARnet news »

Researchers have been finding quite a few disturbing examples of Nature's mad scientists lately – from a wasp that performs brain surgery on live cockroaches, to the fungus that turns living ants into undead slaves. But today's bizarre example comes from the plant kingdom, in the form of a parasitic bacterium that can turn a flowering plant into a kind of zombie to do its bidding.      That's right, you'll never play a game of Plants vs. Zombies quite the same way again... seriously, who exactly are the bad guys now?   Photo: Jic Photography   This creepy phenomenon is being studied by Saskia Hogenhout of the John Innes Centre in Norwich, U.K., who found that parasitic bacteria called phytoplasma can turn a host plant sterile. This causes it to lose its flowers and replace them with leaves (a condition called “witch's broom”), which in turn makes it more attractive to insects called leafhoppers, »

- Gregory Burkart

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