MAY 02, 2018 5:33 PM PDT

Plants May Exhibit Underground Communication With Their Neighbors

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Humans use speech as a form of communication with one another, and many animals exhibit unique vocalizations with the same influence. Plants, on the other hand, don’t make a peep; so how do they communicate with one another?

Some may be inclined to say that plants don’t communicate with one another at all, but according to a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE this week, researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences have found otherwise.

Even the smallest touch above ground may trigger underground chemical communication between plants.

Image Credit: Elhakeem et al. (2018)

While plants don’t communicate with one another through the traditional sense of speaking and listening as people and animals do, plants do appear to discharge chemicals into the soil that can serve as signals for other plants residing nearby.

The plants’ roots are particularly important in this process. The plant secreting the chemicals into the soil does so via its own roots, while other plants nearby use their roots to detect and ‘understand’ the signals associated with particular chemical traces.

The discovery is not only fascinating, but it raises additional questions. Of those, it seems logical to ask what plants might be saying to one another with these chemical signals.

Study lead author Velemir Ninkovic asked this very same question, and to learn more, he and his colleagues performed various tests with corn seedlings to uncover more. After testing, it became apparent that there could be a link between the circumstances above ground and the chemical signals that get unleashed below.

"Our study demonstrated that changes induced by above ground mechanical contact between plants can affect below ground interactions, acting as cues in prediction of the future competitors," he said.

Related: Some plants sacrifice a portion of their roots to survive cold weather

As it would seem, the chemical signals could tell other plants whether they’re related or not, which may alert them to potential competition. They may also communicate stressful situations with other plants in an attempt to ensure survival.

The study only scratches the surface of the new idea, but future research could uncover more about the secrets that plants are whispering to one another underground.

Source: Phys.org

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 23, 2020
Plants & Animals
Sharks Missing from 1/5 of World's Reefs
JUL 23, 2020
Sharks Missing from 1/5 of World's Reefs
Sharks of all sizes are vital to coral reef ecosystems, both as predators and prey. Shark populations have rapidly decli ...
AUG 18, 2020
Immunology
How Dolphins Could Help Us Live Longer
AUG 18, 2020
How Dolphins Could Help Us Live Longer
Dolphins are helping scientists answer the age-old question: can we stop the clock when it comes to aging? A recent stud ...
AUG 21, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Growing Cannabis Indoors is Not Eco Friendly
AUG 21, 2020
Growing Cannabis Indoors is Not Eco Friendly
Indoor cannabis cultivation is considered to produce the highest quality cannabis available, but the elephant in the roo ...
SEP 07, 2020
Neuroscience
Researchers Identify 5 Kinds of Cat Owners
SEP 07, 2020
Researchers Identify 5 Kinds of Cat Owners
Conservationists have long been concerned about the number of animals caught by domestic cats. In the US alone, estimate ...
SEP 15, 2020
Immunology
Common Spice Relieves Eye Inflammation in Dogs, Human Studies to Follow
SEP 15, 2020
Common Spice Relieves Eye Inflammation in Dogs, Human Studies to Follow
A therapeutic made from turmeric has been shown to help reduce the effects of a painful inflammatory eye condition in do ...
OCT 25, 2020
Neuroscience
Chimps Shift to Reciprocated Friendships with Age
OCT 25, 2020
Chimps Shift to Reciprocated Friendships with Age
Image: Pixabay   Researchers studying aging male chimpanzee relationships have gathered evidence that chimps narrow ...
Loading Comments...