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Natural World

Plants 'scream' when stressed out, study finds

December 8, 2019 | Comment icon 12 comments



It seems that plants have a way of expressing their discomfort. Image Credit: sxc.hu
Scientists have discovered that plants emit ultrasonic 'squeals' when stressed due to drought or damage.
What sound does a plant make ? It's a question that might seem ridiculous, but now according to a new study, the idea that plants emit sound may not be that far-fetched after all.

Researchers at Israel's Tel Aviv University were recently able to record these ultrasonic 'squeals' by placing special microphones next to tomato and tobacco plants.

Remarkably, they reported picking up the sounds, which fell within the range of 20 to 100 kilohertz, up to 10cm away from the plant. It has also been speculated that some plants and animals may even be able to detect these sounds up to several meters away.

Scientists believe that these sounds are produced by the plant during times of stress, such as when there is a drought or when the plant has sustained physical damage.
Different causes of stress also seemed to cause the plants to produce sounds at differing rates.

The researchers found that computer software could even tell different plants apart from these sounds.

"Sounds that drought-stressed plants make could be used in precision agriculture if it is not too costly to set up the recording in a field situation," said biologist Anne Visscher.

Further research will be needed however to determine the feasibility of this concept.

Source: Live Science | Comments (12)



Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by stevewinn 2 years ago
im not surprised we've known for years our cousins the trees communicate to one another. thats why its sad to see solitary trees especially the old English oak trees who could be 400 to 1000+ years old and not spoken to another tree for hundreds of years. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Piney 2 years ago
A actual recording in the human range is needed. That way we can blast it at vegans. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Ozfactor 2 years ago
Yes I agree Steve, it is always sad to see solitary trees in paddocks, like a solitary dolphin in a tank .
Comment icon #6 Posted by Grandpoobah 2 years ago
Some of the comments, wow  People need to be a little more logical and exercise some critical thinking... Exactly what purpose would this human interpreted as a "scream" sound do if no one can naturally hear it. No type of life form (and that includes non sentient plant life) would evolve a trait that their supposed harmer would not hear, DUH! However all the sentient animals who are needlessly subjected to horrific violence for the completely needless consumption of their bodies do scream, and loudly too, but sadly their screams also are not heard... not by those who consume their remains any... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by Hawken 2 years ago
@Grandpoobah My guess is that you're a Vegan.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Wes83 2 years ago
Wonder what they sound like happy, or bored. Or maybe all they know is oblivion and stress?
Comment icon #9 Posted by Ozfactor 2 years ago
The smell of cut grass is a chemical distress signal from the cut grass, we might not hear plants scream but we can smell their distress. 
Comment icon #10 Posted by Ozfactor 2 years ago
https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/30573/what-causes-fresh-cut-grass-smell Trauma, that’s what. It’s the smell of chemical defenses and first aid. The fresh, “green” scent of a just-mowed lawn is the lawn trying to save itself from the injury you just inflicted. Leafy plants release a number of volatile organic compounds called green leaf volatiles (GLVs). When the plants are injured, whether through animals grazing on them, you cutting or mowing them, or even just unintentionally rough handling, these emissions increase like crazy.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Hawken 2 years ago
I wonder if my apple tree thinks I'm kidnapping her babies when I pick them.
Comment icon #12 Posted by RabidMongoose 2 years ago
Oh my God, you mass murderer. You`re worse than Hitler!


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