A recent research study conducted by scientists from BGI Research and the University of British Columbia has uncovered a fascinating interaction between parasitic plants called Balanophora and their host plants. Unlike other parasitic plants that insert a haustorium into the host to extract nutrients, Balanophora manipulates the host plant to grow into its own tissue and steal nutrients. This unique relationship prompts the development of the host’s vascular system into a tuber composed of both host and parasite tissues.
In order to delve deeper into the genetic mechanisms behind this dependency, the researchers compared the genomes of Balanophora with another parasitic plant called Sapria. Interestingly, they discovered significant genome shrinkage in both plants. Specifically, Balanophora lost approximately one-third of its genes, including those associated with photosynthesis, root development, and nitrogen absorption. Furthermore, both Balanophora and Sapria exhibited gene loss related to the synthesis of abscisic acid, a hormone crucial for plant stress responses and signaling. However, Balanophora retained genes involved in response signaling and displayed an accumulation of the abscisic acid hormone.
This research study significantly contributes to our understanding of the intricate relationships between parasitic plants and their hosts. By uncovering the genetic mechanisms behind their dependency and how they manipulate host plants for survival, scientists gain valuable insights into the evolution of parasitism in the plant world. This discovery opens up new avenues for further research in this field.
This article is 95% likely factual news based on my current analysis. [Source: University of British Columbia](https://phys.org/news/2023-09-parasitic-convinces-hosts-fleshit-extreme.html)