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The Bug that Makes Tomatoes Lie

Silverleaf whiteflies or Bemisia tabaci are insidious pests that invade fields and fool tomatoes. These bugs apply signals to alter the behaviour of tomato plants.

The affected tomato plants convey false signals to nearby crops, which heightens their defence against fungal infections but reduces their guard in detecting the whiteflies. The domino-effect can be highly disastrous, according to research from Jiliang University in China.

An expert from Amsterdam has narrowed down to a plausible solution through Solanum habrochaites, the wild relatives of silverleaf whiteflies. These insects produce natural insect repellents called terpenes, which may be deposited on tomato hairs to stave off the invasive threat. This method provides tomatoes with added defence without introducing any potentially harmful additives.

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