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Plants manipulate roundworms using their own pheromones

Plants manipulate roundworms using their own pheromones 86
These tomato roots were infected with southern nematodes (Meloidogyne incognita). In the places where they feed, microscopic roundworms form galls, which prevent plants from developing normally and bearing fruit / © B TI / Murli Manohar

It turned out that plants use a chemical “tongue” to drive nematodes away from themselves by tricking these worms, who planned to trick the plants themselves.

Tiny nematode roundworms are recognized pests. Based on the roots of various cultures, they get a hotel with full board there, and are responsible for billions in losses at farms around the world. However, scientists have discovered a superpower in plants, which may be the key to new methods of dealing with these parasites. The authors published an article about their research in Nature Communications .

What to do if you are attacked, and you are chained to a place and cannot escape or destroy the enemy? Convince him to get out of the next-best. Scientists from the Boyce Thompson Institute have found that plants do not just perceive and mimic the “smell” of nematodes. According to lead author Frank Schroeder, they recognize the nematode communication system and are introduced into it by studying the signaling system, the same way we learn a foreign language. After this, the plant develops a kind of propaganda activity, convincing the nematodes that “there is a bad place here.”

Worms produce and secrete a group of chemicals called ascarosides to communicate with each other. For their defensive purposes, plants metabolize ascarosides and release metabolites back into the soil.

Earlier work showed that ascar # 18 ascaroside, secreted by nematodes, causes plants to enhance protection. Moreover, the substance eventually disappeared from the soil. Scientists compared these data with the fact that plants can modify the metabolites of pests, and suggested: it is possible that plants and nematodes interact through the transmission of signals by small molecules and change each other’s messages.

To check, the team processed ascr # 18 with three types of plants – carapace, wheat and tomato. Then, scientists compared the compounds of these plants and plants of the same species from the controled, untreated group. They identified three ascr # 18 metabolites, the most common of which was ascr # 9. These three metabolites, the processed tomatoes and the carapace, were isolated back into the soil. Moreover, the “blend”, consisting of 90% ascr # 9 and 10% ascr # 18, getting into the soil, is associated with the massive departure of nematodes from the roots of the plant and a decrease in the scale of parasite invasion.

The team hypothesized that nematodes in the soil perceive this mixture as a signal sent by plants already infected with nematodes: once the plant is already inhabited, it is worth looking for another place so as not to overpopulate the former. Worms could evolve to use plant metabolism and make them send this signal to help their enemies. Plants, in turn, could evolve to fake the signal, to appear as badly infected as possible, thereby tricking potential invaders.

Scientists note that plants can have similar types of chemical bonds with other pests. This opens up prospects for creating an environmentally friendly method of combating various agricultural parasites. Future studies may find the most suitable option for the substances used. The authors note that there should be no harm to crops, their productivity or nutritional properties, since ascarosides, for example ascr # 18, mainly stimulate the plant to respond faster and stronger to the pathogen, rather than provoke a broad-profile protective response that could, say, inhibit their growth.

Researchers emphasized that plants metabolize ascr # 18 via the peroxisomal β-oxidation pathway, a system that persists in many plant species.

“This article reveals an ancient interaction,” Schroeder explains. “All nematodes produce ascarosides, and plants have had millions of years to learn how to manipulate these molecules.” Plants are not passive green objects. They are active participants in an interactive dialogue with the environment, and we will continue to decipher this dialogue.”


Planet Earth

Polar vortex: “wild” winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January

Polar vortex: "wild" winter is coming in the US, Northern Europe and East Asia after the 16th of January 87

In the upper atmosphere above the North Pole, experts saw a rapidly swirling vortex of cold air that could bring severe frosts to the United States, Northern Europe and East Asia. Serious cold snap and snowy weather are expected after January the 16th.

Snowfalls and a cold snap hit South Korea since the start of 2021, hitting historic snow maximums and temperatures. In the country, for the first time since 1964, television and newer communications are sending people cold snap warnings:

The situation is similar in Japan, where a new snow storm hit historic highs:

On January 7, the thermometer In Beijing dropped to -20 degrees Celsius, breaking the 1966 record. In other regions of China, the temperature is also not sugar, and you can only move around in special uniforms:

The cold even reached Taiwan, where the temperature in some areas dropped below freezing point, snow poured down and people realized that rice terraces can be used as a ski jump:

Even more snow went to Spain, where on January 6, 2021, a temperature of -34.1 ° C was recorded – the lowest on record. After that, a snow storm hit the country, which has not been seen for 80 years:

The same thing happens in Canada and in the northern states of the United States:

It seems that after a stratospheric warming, the subpolar vortex began to split:

The vortex itself is a standard phenomenon. However, this time experts were surprised at his movement. It is possible that in the near future it will be divided into two parts. 

Scientists associate the strange behavior with the changed climate in the Arctic, which has become warmer. From September to December, the amount of ice cover decreased significantly.

The polar vortex is a low-pressure region located in the stratosphere and filled with cold air. When the jet stream of air that holds the vortex weakens, the low pressure area moves south. 

As the ice shrinks, more moisture will move inland. It will turn to snow, so snowfalls are expected. Snow, in turn, reflects heat, leading to a cold snap.

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Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared

Hospital in Naples was evacuated after a new, huge sinkhole appeared 88

Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud crash at dawn when a huge hole in the ground formed outside the Ponticelli Ospedale del Mare hospital in eastern Naples.

Early in the morning of January 8, 2021, a sinkhole occurred in the parking lot of a clinic in Naples. The depth of the formed cavity is about 20 meters, the total area of ​​the hole is about 2,000 square meters.

No casualties were found at the scene; firefighters say the sinkhole “affected an area of ​​about 500 square meters” and engulfed several cars parked near the hospital.

As the press writes and as a little can be seen from the videos, rescuers and firefighters were running around the pit together with the governor of the area.  But who should be there in the forefront are Italian geologists, since Naples stands in the very center of the volcanic system known as the Phlegrean Fields.

If the surface collapsed, moreover – the surface reinforced with concrete and reinforced from below with some kind of communications, then we are talking about serious soil deformations caused by the activity of magma.

Italy has been in doubt since the summer of 2020, because swarms were observed there in very atypical places in May, and according to the forecasts of old Italian seismologists, who had witnessed many strong earthquakes, it should have boomed in the August region.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Italy and there was no big earthquake. But, since there are swarms, it means that something is being prepared, the magma is gathering strength. 

Following this particular sinkhole event – an obvious sign that a major earthquake in Italy is already very close.

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Planet Earth

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China

A new great pandemic cycle has begun (again) in China 89

In the first months of 2020, the whole world with a certain fright followed the events unfolding in China, where people fell on the streets during the day and astronauts wandered, and in the evening crematoria began to smoke. And now, with the onset of December, the cycle seems to be repeating itself.

Shunyi area in Beijing, where the authorities announced “wartime status” the day before. As you can see in the videos, thousands of people are lined up in the queue for mandatory testing:

Dalian city, where “wartime” is also declared. Neighborhoods are blockaded, people are walled up in entrances, familiar characters of George Lucas roam the streets:

Chinese ‘rescuers’, before performing a combat mission:

Chengdu City:

Daluo Port, Yunnan – tourists came for adventure and they received the ‘time of their life’ after leaving the ramp:

If something happens in Beijing, it does not mean that tomorrow the same will happen everywhere. However, the trend towards such dynamics is observed and, as the practice of the first wave of the pandemic has shown, all countries and people, to one degree or another, have taken into account the ‘Chinese experience’. 

Therefore, one must think that everything will now be in peace, as in spring – a new global round of the fight against the Covid has begun in China, a new great pandemic cycle!

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