Friday, January 16, 2009

Circadian rhythms controlled similarly in humans and fruitflies

You may never hear fruit flies snore, but rest assured that when you're asleep they are too. According to research published in the January 2009 issue of the journal Genetics scientists from the University of Missouri-Kansas City have shown that the circadian rhythms (sleep/wake cycles) of fruit flies and vertebrates are regulated by some of the same "cellular machinery" as that of humans. Typical symptoms of a nematode infection in plants are withering, seriously retarded growth, and impaired development of flower and fruit; severely infected plants often do not survive the damage. Each year, plant-parasitic roundworms cause more than 80 billion euro in agricultural losses worldwide.

Some nematodes have developed an ingenious way of making a plant feed them. They penetrate the plant's roots and make their way to their host's vascular bundles, which are part of the plant's transport system for nutrients and water. The roundworms inject a protein cocktail into a single plant cell of the vascular bundle system, causing the plant cell to merge with neighboring cells and start producing food for the worm. This plant cell − which can become as large as 200 normal plant cells − is called the "nematode feeding site."
Source: Public Library of Science.