Does your plant have little water? Then he starts crying “clicking” | Science and the planet

Lack of water or damaged stems. Plants can suffer as well as humans. But did you know that plants can scream in frustration? Scientists from Israel managed to record the sound of a stressed plant. This is not what you expect.


Glen Hicks


Last updated:
15:20


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Scientific alert

We are used to plants being somewhat passive. They are obedient in a bowl or in nature, and apparently have no awareness of what is going on in their environment. But a new study published in the journal cellHe proposes something completely different. According to scientists, plants make sound when they are under stress.

That’s how they found out

The researchers conducted the test using tomato and tobacco plants. First, they recorded the sound of plants that were not under stress. In this way, scientists knew how much noise a plant makes under normal conditions. Then it’s time to “torture” the plants. Biologists allowed the plants to dry out or cut their stems. Each time they recorded the sound first in a soundproof room, and then in an ordinary greenhouse.

What did you turn? Stressed plants make significantly more noise. They produce an average of 40 sounds per hour, which can be heard within a radius of a few metres. In addition, researchers have had similar results with plants such as corn, cacti, and grapes.

This is what it looks like

The sound of plants screeching, sounds like some kind of banging or clicking. It’s a bit like plastic bubbles that you squeeze. For humans, sound simply cannot be heard. This is because the frequency of sound is too high for our hearing. Scientists say the sounds may be directly audible to insects, other mammals and other plants. “So there is a possibility that there is a lot of vocal interaction between those organisms. For example, a moth planning to lay its eggs on a plant could use these sounds to select a plant,” says biologist Lilac Hadani.

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There are still a lot of questions

However, the researchers were left with many questions. For example, it is not clear how plants can make these sounds. A cavity may be the cause. This is a process in which the air bubbles in the stem expand and collapse. Something that can cause an audible bang. It is also not yet clear whether plants also respond to other stressful situations such as extreme temperatures and disease.

Although, according to scientists, this is definitely worth investigating. If a human can pick up on the signals from a plant, farmers could, for example, intervene in time during a drought. And who knows, you might even hear your prized houseplant calling for water.

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