Tel Aviv University researchers find plants use sound to share data

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Plants can communicate, emitting sounds that carry information about their health and environmental conditions, according to a recent study by researchers from Tel Aviv University. The scientists found that different types of stress produce specific patterns of sound in plants, and that these patterns can be recognized and analyzed by artificial intelligence tools.

The Study

The research team conducted experiments with tobacco and tomatoes, subjecting them to severe stress by cutting off the stems and depriving them of water. The plants emitted high-frequency noises that spread over a distance of about five meters, sounding like clicks of different durations and tempos when adjusted to the range of human hearing.

The scientists then tested other plants, including wheat, corn, cactus, and grapevine, and found that the sounds produced by plants under stress were significantly stronger and different from those produced by healthy plants. The team believes that animals can hear these sounds and use them to search for food, nesting sites, and other resources.

Potential Applications

The discovery of acoustic communication in plants could have significant implications for agriculture, particularly in monitoring crop water and disease conditions. With climate change increasing the risk of drought in many areas, the efficient use of water is becoming more critical for both food security and the environment. Farmers could use the sounds emitted by plants to identify problems and take action to improve yields.

Moreover, the researchers speculate that the sounds made by one plant might help other organisms to adapt to changing environmental conditions. For instance, plants could prepare for dry weather by emitting sounds that signal the need for water or other resources, allowing other organisms to adjust their behavior accordingly. The study sheds new light on the ways in which plants interact with their environment and with other organisms.