Making plants more attractive
Zigmunds Orlovskis, John Innes Centre
Phytoplasmas are insect-transmitted plant pathogens. These bacteria secrete small virulence proteins, called effectors, which alter plant development and make plants more attractive for insect egg-laying. Thus, the pathogen manipulates its plant host in order to enhance its transmission in nature by insects. Scientists at the John Innes Centre on the Norwich Research Park are studying this manifestation of a true extended phenotype of a parasitic organism. The image demonstrates an aster leafhopper Macrosteles quadrilineatus being attracted by a phytoplasma-infected thale cress plant Arabidopsis thaliana.