Wily bacteria create ‘zombie’ plants

Plant parasites thrive by transforming hosts into ‘living dead’

By Esther Landhuis, 18:59 PM April 22, 2014

Here’s a case where the little guys win big. Some plant-infecting bacteria convert their host’s flowers into leaflike structures. Those leaves attract hungry sap-sucking insects that spread the bacteria. And the infected plant? Unable to make flowers, it cannot reproduce. It becomes a ‘zombie,’ living only to sustain its masters.

Those bacteria are parasites. They live off of another species — the plant — while offering it no help. Through its tinkering with the plant to attract insect predato...

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