Hacking plants consistent with selfish gene theory

From David Coombs, Northants, UK

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Sir, I thoroughly enjoyed Richard Mabey’s thoughtful piece on our new understanding of plants (“We are finally waking up to the secret life of trees”, FT Weekend, May 21). I cannot agree, however, that the capacity of a plant to hack the warning pheromones emitted by other species contradicts the selfish gene theory.

The selfish gene theory is clear that a species could not care less if its survival techniques are useful or of detriment to others, provided that any benefit or injury bestowed does not prove a handicap to its own survival.

David Coombs

Corby, Northants, UK

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