Plants: Screaming tomatoes and whining cacti – Stressed plants make noise

Science botany

Ouch! Help! Stressed plants make noise

Fresh ripe tomatoes on plant in greenhouse

The ultrasonic noises were measured on tomato plants

Source: picture alliance / Westend61

You can listen to our WELT podcasts here

In order to display embedded content, your revocable consent to the transmission and processing of personal data is required, since the providers of the embedded content as third-party providers require this consent [In diesem Zusammenhang können auch Nutzungsprofile (u.a. auf Basis von Cookie-IDs) gebildet und angereichert werden, auch außerhalb des EWR]. By setting the switch to “on”, you agree to this (which can be revoked at any time). This also includes your consent to the transfer of certain personal data to third countries, including the USA, in accordance with Art. 49 (1) (a) GDPR. You can find more information about this. You can withdraw your consent at any time via the switch and via privacy at the bottom of the page.

Screaming tomatoes and whining cacti: researchers have recorded the sounds of plants and made them audible for humans. Under stress, the noise increases sharply – and animals can perceive this.

GAccording to a study, stressed plants can make a lot of noise – but people don’t hear it. The sounds are about as loud as a normal conversation, but the frequency of the sounds lying in the ultrasonic range is too high for humans, write scientists from Tel Aviv University in the journal “Cell”.

“The sounds in the ultrasonic range could be heard by many mammals and insects from a distance of three to five meters,” the researchers assume. (You can hear them here.)

plants like tomatoes and tobacco become loud when they suffer from drought stress or when their stems are cut, the research team continues to report. They sound as if the small capsules were being crushed by bubble wrap.

also read

Garden hose on dry grass

Whether the plants produce such sounds to communicate with other organisms is unclear. Other studies have already shown that plants, for example, increase the sugar concentration in their nectar in response to noises made by pollinators.

And what if an entire wheat field is about to be harvested? The scientists explain that crop plants such as corn or wheat also make noises under stress. “Therefore, it’s likely that sounds are also emitted during harvesting (in the form of cutting),” shares Lilach Hadany, an evolutionary biologist at Tel Aviv University. The team was also able to show that cacti, vines and deadnettles also make noises.

Too little water leads to stress

Some allotment gardeners may be horrified at the thought that the stress on their grown vegetables will start popping when they are cut off. However, the researchers see a practical potential use for agriculture in their findings: With the help of sound recordings, for example, the irrigation of plants in the field or in the greenhouse can be monitored and made more effective.

For the study, the researchers examined tomato and tobacco plants under different conditions. In one of the experiments, the plants had too little water, in another their stems were cut. For comparison, the team also looked at undisturbed specimens. The scientists used microphones to record sounds in a soundproof room and in a greenhouse.

The result: According to the study, stressed plants emitted significantly more noise than healthy ones. Under stress, they made around 30 to 50 tones per hour. “If tomatoes aren’t stressed at all, they’re very quiet,” says Hadany. Using an algorithm, the team was able to see how the sounds differed depending on the type of stress.

also read

In horticulture, vegetables or salad plants are often planted in so-called pressed potting soil

The researchers assume that the cause of this phenomenon takes place inside a plant. Studies have shown that so-called cavitation occurs in plants that suffer from drought stress. Roughly speaking, air bubbles form in the vascular system, which expand and collapse again. This leads to vibrations.

“The design of the study is good,” says Sibaji Kumar Sanyal, a molecular biologist at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, who was not involved in the study. You can quickly understand from the sounds if the plants were not watered properly. For future studies, however, it is important to examine other plant species in addition to tomatoes and tobacco.

So do people get the wrong idea about the quiet nature – when, for example, the domestic houseplants need water again or the vegetables are harvested in the garden? “That’s an interesting idea. But if you look at the frequency of the plant sounds, it is in the ultrasonic range. That’s why they are still silent for us,” explains Sanyal.

See more here

See also  Springer's interjections: Today's youth...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *