Every blade of grass has “its special tune,” Rabbi Nachman of Breslov noted in his writings. According to a Times Of Israel report, scientists at Tel Aviv University assert that they have recognized the numerous sounds that plants produce and have even been successful in recording them.
In a ground-breaking new study published last Thursday in the esteemed scientific journal Cell, Israeli researchers assert that they have identified “words” and discovered that different species speak in other “languages,” even though it has long been known that plants communicate with one another.
Plants communicate in a variety of ways when they are stressed, according to scientists.
To warn other family members that they are under assault, such as by insects, they may alter physically (by withering or changing the color of their leaves), become unpleasant to the taste (to dissuade herbivores), or emit scents (volatile organic compounds).
According to a new study, plants can react to sound by, for example, boosting the sugar content of their nectar to attract pollinators who are generating noise nearby.
Researchers now assert that they have, for the first time, captured noises that, while inaudible to human ears, can be recorded at high frequencies.
Scientists have recorded ultrasonic sounds made by tomato and tobacco plants and sounds made by plants that had their stems cut, been deprived of water, or had been left alone (as a control group).
Ultrasonic sounds have a frequency of 20 to 150 kHz, above the range of human hearing.
We settled a very ancient scientific issue, according to Prof. Lilach Hadany of the university’s School of Plant Sciences and Food Security, who also co-led the study. We established that plants indeed produce sounds. ”
“Our results indicate that the environment around us is full of plant sounds and that these sounds include information, such as about water scarcity or injury,” she continued. We assume that in the natural world, neighboring animals like bats, rats, various insects, and perhaps even other plants that can hear the high frequencies pick up on the noises that the plants generate.
We think that humans can use this knowledge if given the correct tools, like sensors that alert producers when plants need watering.
For instance, the tomato plants made very little noise when they were watered, but over the next four or five days, as the plants dried out, there were more and eventually fewer sounds.
Moreover, sounds produced by tomato plants infected with the tobacco mosaic virus were recorded.
The researchers next conducted a modest survey of additional plant species to confirm their findings further.
They successfully recorded noises from wheat, corn, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, pincushion cacti, and henbit, an annual plant in the mint family.
They add, “We thus anticipate that numerous plants generate noises, although the diversity of these sounds’ properties is still to be investigated.”
According to the researchers’ theories, the sounds may be related to cavitation in the stem, at least in part.
Air bubbles can grow, expand, and collapse in the xylem, the network of small pipes that transports water and other soluble materials from the roots to the stem and leaves when a plant is under stress.
The researchers conclude that the information may be helpful for precision agriculture, such as monitoring water and disease, especially as climate change brings on more drought, endangering ecosystems and food security.
They also raise the intriguing possibility that other organisms might be able to “hear” the sounds and respond to them.