Scientists at the John Innes Centre have discovered how plants send internal warning signals in response to attack by aphids.
They found that when the insect feeds on a leaf it triggers the plant to admit calcium into the damaged cells. This small flux of calcium prompts the plant to signal that an attack is underway, and a larger amount of calcium is then mobilised from within the cell.
These discoveries were the result of a collaboration between Professors Saskia Hogenhout and Dale Sanders. Professor Sanders elaborates on the findings: “We now know that when an aphid feeds on a leaf, the plant uses calcium as a warning signal. This signal forms part of the plants defence mechanism. By understanding this, we are one step closer to understanding how we may be able to reduce the damage done by pests such as the aphid.”
Article source: John Innes Centre