When attacked, plants use bugs to protect themselves and to retaliate. It turns out they can also defend themselves by using their roots to secrete acid that brings bacteria to the rescue.

This quashes the misperception that plants are at the mercy of passing pathogens and sheds new light on a sophisticated signaling system inside plants that rivals the nervous system in humans and animals.

Researcher Harsh Bais says, “Plants are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. People think that plants, rooted in the ground, are just sitting ducks when it comes to attack by harmful fungi or bacteria, but we’ve found that plants have ways of seeking external help.”

Farmers are learning this, and they often add a protective microbe to the soil to boost plant immunity.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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