Scientists film plant ‘talking’ to its neighbor, and the footage is incredible

Imperceptible to us, plants are surrounded by a fine mist of airborne compounds that they use to communicate and protect themselves. Kind of like smells, these compounds repel hungry herbivores and warn neighboring plants of incoming assailants.

In this study, Yuri Aratani and Takuya Uemura, molecular biologists at Saitama University in Japan, and colleagues rigged up a pump to transfer compounds emitted by injured and insect-riddled plants onto their undamaged neighbors, and a fluorescence microscope to watch what happened.

Caterpillars (Spodoptera litura) were set upon leaves cut from tomato plants and Arabidopsis thaliana, a common weed in the mustard family, and the researchers imaged the responses of a second, intact, insect-free Arabidopsisplant to those danger cues.

It wasn’t a natural set-up; the compounds were concentrated in a plastic bottle and pumped onto the recipient plant at a constant rate, but this allowed the researchers to analyze what compounds were in the pungent mix.

As you can see in the video above, the undamaged plants received the messages of their injured neighbors loud and clear, responding with bursts of calcium signaling that rippled across their outstretched leaves.



Article URL :