S & T

Updated: April 12, 2012 02:27 IST

Plants react to sound, make noises

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Communication: The role of sound in plants is yet to be fully explored. Photo: Nagara Gopal
The Hindu
Communication: The role of sound in plants is yet to be fully explored. Photo: Nagara Gopal

It was established that young roots of corn made regular clicking sounds.

When South African botanist Lyall Watson claimed in his 1973 best-seller “Supernature” that plants had emotions that could register on a lie detector, scientists scoffed and branded it as hippie nonsense.

But a new Australian research at The University of Western Australia has claimed to have discovered that plants appear to react to sounds and may even make clicking noises to communicate with each other.

Monica Gagliano of UWA has teamed with colleagues Daniel Robert at the University of Bristol (UK) and Stefano Mancuso at the University of Florence (Italy) to show that the roots of young plants emit and react to particular sounds.

“Everyone knows that plants react to light, and scientists also know that plants use volatile chemicals to communicate with each other, for instance, when danger — such as a herbivore — approaches,” Gagliano said in an university statement released recently.

Gagliano and fellow researchers established that young roots of corn made regular clicking sounds.

They also found that young corn roots suspended in water leaned toward the source of a continuous sound emitted in the region of 220Hz, which is within the frequency range that the same roots emitted themselves.

Their findings, published in the leading international journal Trends in Plant Science, conclude that the role of sound in plants has yet to be fully explored, “leaving serious gaps our current understanding of the sensory and communicatory complexity of these organisms.”

In addition to other forms of sensory response, “it is very likely that some form of sensitivity to sound and vibrations also plays an important role in the life of plants”. Gagliano said.

More In: Sci-Tech | Science

The Holy Bible says that "the trees clap their hands to God and bear witness". What
truth is now being confirmed?!

from:  ajay
Posted on: Apr 18, 2012 at 01:59 IST

In one of the Pacific Islands (Samoa ?), when they do not want a tree, they do not cut it. They surround it and shout curses and abuses to the tree and it dies in a few days. This has been written in many stories.
In another place, I found people going to a huge healthy tree,in a park, hugging it with love and respect, and staying in some kind of communion with it. They believe, it energises them.

from:  kunwar
Posted on: Apr 17, 2012 at 16:55 IST

I am happy that one person has mentioned about J C Bose in his comment. JCB did all his experiments when " Transistors" were news to the world. Sensing technology had advance a lot since then.

from:  Viswanath C
Posted on: Apr 12, 2012 at 14:24 IST

I totally agree with what Mr Bala said about the article. We have the tendency of praising western people's findings and forget what our own all-time greats like Jagdish Chandra Bose and Ramanujan say. Really unfortunate.

from:  Rajan Akavoor
Posted on: Apr 12, 2012 at 13:23 IST

Have we forgotten Jagdish Chandra Bose who pioneered this discovery
even earlier ?
According to Wikipedia., Bose made a number of pioneering discoveries
in plant physiology. He used his own invention, the crescograph, to
measure plant response to various stimuli, and thereby scientifically
proved parallelism between animal and plant tissues.The Hindu should have mentioned this famous Indian scientist at least in passing.Its a shame when great Indian scientists are forgotten.

from:  BalaG
Posted on: Apr 12, 2012 at 11:05 IST

A great book that talks about sounds and plants is "The Secret Life of Plants" written by Peter Tomkins and Christopher Bird. In their experiments with plants using electrode measuring devices they claim that plants respond positively to music and can also sense and withdraw from people who are destructive to plant life. The book talks about how vegetables grow better when talked to. They found out that for instance carrots put out screaming sounds when they were to be dropped into boiling water! It is really a fascinating book and should be read by nature lovers. The book was derogated as pseudo science but it's good to find this article that validates their findings. The book also says that plants die after 24 hour constant exposure to heavy rock music except marijuana plants which seem to survive the heavy sound. Plants, it says, love classical and jazz music and when it comes to indian classical music, they love it best of all, and literally grow around the speakers!

from:  angela alvares
Posted on: Apr 12, 2012 at 10:11 IST
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