Skip to comments.Study: Plants React Defensively to Being Eaten
Posted on 07/11/2014 12:32:02 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Following various studies, a report has been published by the University of Missouri-Colombia (MU) speculating that plant growth and reaction is influenced by sound, wind and touch.
For instance, as a caterpillar eats the leaves of a plant, the plant respond to the sounds made and launches defenses against the attack.
Heidi Appel, senior research scientist in the Division of Plant Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the Bond Life Sciences Center at MU, said:
Previous research has investigated how plants respond to acoustic energy, including music.
However, our work is the first example of how plants respond to an ecologically relevant vibration. We found that feeding vibrations signal changes in the plant cells metabolism, creating more defensive chemicals that can repel attacks from caterpillars.
The studies were run in conjunction with Rex Cocroft, professor in the Division of Biological Sciences at MU.
During the study, researchers placed caterpillars on the leaves of Arabidopsis, a small flowering plant related to cabbage and mustard. They then used a special laser microphone on a leaf to measure the sounds and movement of the leaf, responding to the chewing caterpillar.
Once they had the recordings of the vibrations caused by the feeding caterpillar, Cocroft and Appel played back these recordings to one set of similar plants. Using a second set of plants, they played back only silence.
Following this, they allowed caterpillars to feed on both sets of plants and researchers established that plants that had previously been exposed to the vibrations produced more mustard oils, which is toxic to many caterpillars, in an effort to repulse their advances.
What is remarkable is that the plants exposed to different vibrations, including those made by a gentle wind or different insect sounds that share some acoustic features with caterpillar feeding vibrations did not increase their chemical defenses, Cocroft said. This indicates that the plants are able to distinguish feeding vibrations from other common sources of environmental vibration.
Researchers will now concentrate future efforts on how the plants actually sense the vibrations, what features of the signal are key, and how these vibrations interact with other aspects of the plant to produce protective responses against pests.
In the future researchers hope to find ways to protect other plants, such as food crops, from insect pests in a less toxic way than with pesticides.
The above video shows more detail of the research carried out. The full report has been published in the journal Oecologia.
This is true. Whenever I eat broccoli, it reprograms itself to taste bad.
Reminds me of Mooochelle’s White House Garden....
How long before we see “PEToP” (people for the ethical treatment of plants)?
It’s a good thing my lawn mower is loud. I might not be able to bear the screams :)
Runaway Bride...one of the dates was a fruitarian who ate only fruit that had fallen off the tree. come to think of it, kind of like the Garden of Eden.
Have you ever bitten into an apple only to find that you just destroyed the home of a worm and all of her little “loved ones”? It’s hard to sleep at night after that happens.
Oh...now I know the source of that blood curdling scream when I bit into a carrot stick the other night.
When is the movie, “revenge of the plants” going to be released?
A new equivalent to PETA...PETP...”PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF PLANTS”?
A ne reality show, perhaps?
Must be because you sound like a caterpillar because my broccoli tastes fine. Now, Brussels sprouts, yuck!
I have some hedges in front of my house that have leaves with one sharp point on the tip. When I trim the hedges, the first leaves that grow back have up to five points on them. If I don’t trim for a while, the leaves revert to one point.
Asparagus has figured out a form of revenge, along with beets, beans, cabbage, garlic, and others.
Now that was funny.....
I'm off to mow the back lawn..after I get my hair cut. Wonder how loud my hair screams?
I like all them things..............
And that is why it is imperative to cook them first.
” Using a second set of plants, they played back only silence.”
“Second set of plants?” Must’ve been the audience for John Cage’s “4’33”
It could be worse. Bite into an apple and find half a worm.
LOL! Been there, done that.
There is a lot more involved than just this. Both plants and animals have millions of years of natural selection in which they compete and cooperate with each other. For example, a lot of animals have evolved so that they can use plant poisons against insects without harm.
Onions, garlic, hot peppers, tobacco, coffee, the list is enormous. All have evolved defenses that we now like, regard as desirable, and cultivate and improve on.
At the same time, many plants produce fruit that is *intended* to be eaten, but not the seeds within, which can pass through an animals digestion unharmed to be deposited elsewhere. Yet it is only supposed to be eaten when ripe, so changes colors to let animals know.
Examples of all the back and forth could go on for a long time, so the idea that plants can detect when they are being damaged and react to it is pretty basic.
I just always play my old Barry White 33s before approaching the garden and lull them into submission.
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