New Study Reveals That Plants Can ‘Hear Themselves Being Eaten’

Plants are wonderful organisms that do our bodies and environment a lot of good. Green plants in particular are essential instruments in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and generating much-needed oxygen. We also all remember being told to eat our vegetables since we were old enough to hear, so I don’t have to go into the health benefits.

Still, amazing benefits aside, plants can be pretty creepy. For example, there are thought to be up to 583 species of plants which feed off insects. Carnivorous plants, as they are called, use various mechanisms to trap insects before dissolving them and absorbing their nutrients. The Venus flytrap, which traps insects which come in contact with its hairs – yes, it has hairs – before shutting and dissolving the poor creatures. Circle of life, eh?

As if plants eating bugs isn’t weird enough, research from Germany suggests plants can “talk”. According the the study conducted by the University of Bonn, plants can give off various sounds ranging from a low bubbling sound to a screech. The change in volume was picked up by super-sensitive microphones which observed that healthy plants made an increasingly louder sound when they face threats such as insect bites. Turns out J.K. Rowling was on to something with her mandrakes.

Now, new reports from the US appear to confirm that plants have a way of communication and processing stimuli which we are only just beginning to understand. The implications of this research are that plants can hear when they are being eaten, which is exceptionally creepy.
According to the University of Missouri, plants can identify the sound of a nearby plant being eaten by a caterpillar. This was evidenced by plants reacting to another plant being eaten by releasing chemicals to ward off caterpillars. Heidi Appel, a senior research scientist in the Division of Plant Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri explained the findings.
“”Previous research has investigated how plants respond to acoustic energy, including music. However, our work is the first example of how plants respond to an ecologically relevant vibration.
“We found that “feeding vibrations” signal changes in the plant cells’ metabolism, creating more defensive chemicals that can repel attacks from caterpillars.”

Does this mean plants can also hear us eating them? For me, the best part of any salad is the crunch. It’s creepy to know my favorite thing about greens might be a plant’s worst nightmare. Not sure this will stop me though.
H/T: Daily Mail

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Katie Simpson