A plant parasite uses light cues to detect differences in host-plant proximity and architecture
- Journal Article
Sunlight filtered by green plant tissue becomes diminished in its ratio of red to far-red wavelengths (R:FR). Some parasitic plants exploit this change by growing towards regions of low R:FR to locate host plants. In principle, variation in R:FR can also convey ecologically relevant information about host proximity or architecture. Here, we demonstrate that the parasitic vine Cuscuta epilinum Weihe (Convolvulaceae) can distinguish fine-scale differences in R:FR associated with differences in the proximity and shape of potential host plants. We conducted dual-choice experiments by placing parasite seedlings between targets, including low R:FR fields manipulated via LED lighting and pairs of model plants exhibiting realistic R and FR reflectance but differing in proximity or shape. Seedlings consistently distinguished between low-R:FR fields of differing intensity. Furthermore, they exhibited preferences for nearer plant models versus identical models placed 4 cm further away and between same-sized models exhibiting shape differences. Our results indicate that parasites can discriminate minute differences in R:FR signatures corresponding to host factors (proximity and shape) that impact seedling survival. This keen sensory ability underpins the parasite's sophisticated foraging behaviour and highlights the broader importance of light cues in plant ecology. Show more
Journal / seriesPlant, Cell & Environment
Pages / Article No.
SubjectCuscuta; parasite host location; plant architecture; plant senses; R:FR
Organisational unit03970 - De Moraes, Consuelo / De Moraes, Consuelo
03939 - Velicer, Gregory J. / Velicer, Gregory J.
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