Ok, so talking plants didn’t work out so well in “Little Shop of Horrors” when Audrey II started eating folks, but you don’t have anything to fear. Unless, of course, you are a tomato plant. Those guys need to be careful what the other plants are saying.

Professor Jim Westwood  in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has recently discovered that plants use a sort of language to communicate with each other. Specifically, he found that when the parasitic plant dodder attacks tomato plants, there is a massive exchange of mRNA. It was thought that mRNA was very fragile and short-lived, so transferring it between species was unimaginable. The parasitic plants may be using this communication to exploit the host plants’ weaknesses.

His research was recently published in Science and has received significant media coverage around the world.

“The discovery of this novel form of inter-organism communication shows that this is happening a lot more than any one has previously realized,” said Westwood, who is an affiliated researcher with the Fralin Life Science Institute. “Now that we have found that they are sharing all this information, the next question is, ‘What exactly are they telling each other?’.”

Just as long as they are saying, “Feed me Seymore!”