Updated January 25th, 2024 at 18:54 IST

'Talking Trees': Japanese Scientists Uncover Plants' Secret Communication in Stunning Footage

Japanese scientists capture plants' communication in real-time, showcasing undamaged plants responding to distressed neighbors, revealing interplant intricacies

Reported by: Garvit Parashar
Japanese Scientists Uncover Plants' Secret Communication | Image:Unsplash
Advertisement

A group of Japanese scientists has unveiled a breakthrough in understanding the secret language of plants, capturing real-time footage that demonstrates their communication with each other. This discovery sheds light on the intricate ways in which plants warn each other of impending dangers, providing a deeper understanding of their interconnected world.

Under the leadership of molecular biologist Masatsugu Toyota from Saitama University, the research team, including PhD student Yuri Aratani and postdoctoral researcher Takuya Uemura, delved into the realm of plant communication. The study, published in the journal 'Nature Communications,' showcases the remarkable ability of plants to perceive and respond to airborne compounds, similar to smells, released by their distressed counterparts.

Advertisement

"Plants perceive VOCs released by mechanically or herbivore-damaged neighbouring plants and induce various defence responses. Such interplant communication protects plants from environmental threats," noted the authors in their study.

To capture this communication in action, the scientists devised an innovative method. They employed an air pump intricately connected to a container housing leaves and caterpillars, along with another box containing Arabidopsis thaliana, a common weed from the mustard family.

Advertisement

The researchers allowed caterpillars to feed on leaves from tomato plants and Arabidopsis thaliana, observing the responses of undamaged Arabidopsis plants to these danger cues. The video footage vividly depicts undamaged plants receiving messages from their distressed neighbors, responding with bursts of calcium signaling rippling across their outstretched leaves. This highlights the plants' remarkable ability to decipher and react to signals of imminent threats.

Advertisement

The scientists identified two compounds, Z-3-HAL and E-2-HAL, within the airborne compounds that induced calcium signals in Arabidopsis.

In a parallel exploration, the team applied a similar technique to measure calcium signals released by Mimosa pudica (touch-me-not) plants, known for their rapid leaf movements in response to touch.

Advertisement

 

Advertisement

Published January 25th, 2024 at 18:54 IST