heidi appel

anonymous asked:

can plants hear

short answer: we think so, yes! just not in the same way we can.

long answer: this is an emerging botany subfield called Plant Bioacoustics, pioneered by the amazing Monica Gagliano at the University of Western Australia (the same botanist who’s research on plant cognitive abilities has introduced fascinating questions about if plants are intelligent!) as well as others like Heidi M. Appel, a professor at the University of Toledo! here’s some of the major points in what we know so far:

-pea plants are able to locate running water by “hearing” the vibrations of it, and use this information to orient their roots. 

-corn plants (maize) are able to detect vibrations in the soil (theoretically caused by other corn plants crackling their roots for communication), and use this information to orient their roots among other things. 

-Arabidopsis thaliana (the model organism plant commonly known as the Thale Cress) can tell the difference between getting chewed on by an insect and being rustled by the wind. It’s capable of this to the point where when researchers played an audio recording of a plant being chewed on, individuals reacted by secreting chemicals to ward off the bug!

so we know they can “hear’ (i.e., detect vibrations) to a certain point, but we don’t know the mechanisms they use to do this yet, or to what extent they use this to survive. the current suspicion is that at least some plants have some sort of membrane capable of detecting vibrations, although we haven’t found it yet!