Scared Plants Scream
When some plants find themselves in danger they produce extremely high-pitched sounds that cannot be heard by human ears.
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Claims from a new study may change how we think about plants that we so far considered to be mostly quiet. Previous research showed that stress caused by temperature changes or even an “attack” by herbivores can affect the phenotype of flowers leading to changes in color, smell and even shape. And in some cases, volatile organic compounds can be released by the plants.
This time, experts from the Tel Aviv University looked into another kind of reaction. During the experiment, they recorded tomatoes and tobacco plants using microphones with a frequency range of 20 to 150 kHz. These plants were either exposed to a lack of water or had their stems cut open and other similar stresses producing things were done to them.
The results were that the stressed plants emitted many more sounds compared to plants from the control group. And the emitted sounds changed allegedly changed based on what exactly was happening to the plants exactly – in other words, they included information about their physiological state.
The sound can be heard at a distance of roughly 5 meters – enough for organisms capable of hearing in the frequency range to hear them and interpret them. But how are they made? The researchers think that it may be the result of a process known as cavitation when little tiny bubbles get created inside the plane and explode.
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