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>Plants Recognize Family

TAKING ADVANTAGE A Cuscuta pentagona moving toward a tomato plant.

In an article in Tools sponsored by CAROL KAESUK YOON June 10, 2008
we find that just as humans have families, so it appears do plants. If botanists did the genealogy of a plant they could tell which ones like each other and which to plant next to each other. Sound weird? Read on:

From its diminutive lavender flowers to its straggly windblown stalks, there is nothing about the beach weed known as the Great Lakes sea rocket to suggest that it might be any sort of a botanical wonder.

David Corcoran, a science editor, explores some of the topics in this week’s Science Times. Science Times Podcast (mp3)RSS Feed

* Get Science News From The New York Times »

Justin Runyon/De Moraes and Mescher Labs

A dodder after it attacked a tomato plant.

Yet scientists have found evidence that the sea rocket is able to do something that no other plant has ever been shown to do.

The sea rocket, researchers report, can distinguish between plants that are related to it and those that are not. And not only does this plant recognize its kin, but it also gives them preferential treatment.

If the sea rocket detects unrelated plants growing in the ground with it, the plant aggressively sprouts nutrient-grabbing roots. But if it detects family, it politely restrains itself.

The finding is a surprise, so read the entire story by clicking below:


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