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How Plants Communicate

Facts For Prelims

Source: Indian Express

 

Context: A team led by experts at Tel Aviv University has shown tomato and tobacco plants, among others, not only make sounds but do so loudly enough for other creatures to hear.

  • Plants have evolved complex biochemical responses and the ability to dynamically alter their growth (and regrow body parts) in response to environmental signals including light, gravity, temperature, touch, and volatile chemicals produced by surrounding organisms.

 

More about the research:

  • In 2019, researchers showed the buzzing of bees can cause plants to produce sweeter nectar. Others have shown white noise played to Arabidopsis, a flowering plant in the mustard family, can trigger a drought response.
  • Researchers recorded airborne sounds produced by tomato and tobacco plants, and five other species (grapevine, henbit deadnettle, pincushion cactus, maize and wheat). These sounds were ultrasonic, in the range of 20-100 kilohertz, and therefore can’t be detected by human ears.

 

What causes these sounds?

  • The team’s findings suggest that “cavitation” may be at least partially responsible for the sounds.
  • Cavitation is the process through which air bubbles expand and burst inside a plant’s water-conducting tissue, or “xylem”.