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Plants can feel threat


Did you know that plants can hear and feel when someone or something is about to eat them?

We all live in a violent world and plants are not spared either. However, unlike animals or insects, for example, it is absolutely clear that plants cannot run away when they sense the threat.

But they do have their own specific defense mechanisms. For example, they produce toxins and use them to deter predators. Unfortunately, as a senior research scientist in the Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri, Heidi Appel explains, sometimes this is not enough. Those chemicals may not have the same effect on every predator. They might be repelling to some animals, but not so much to other predators. Appel points out that some plants can hear aggressors, identify them and adjust their reaction towards hungry predators.

Even though we were not aware of that, plants can hear, see, and feel. In order to understand that, Appel suggests watching a growth of a young plant, which is going to follow the light, scents and warning signals from other plants.

After this discovery about plants, Appel sees an opportunity to use plants to control insects, and define a new and healthy way to enhance agricultural production. Appel and her husband, the head of the Bond Life Sciences Center, Jack Schultz, work together on this project. If they succeed, the use of insecticides in agriculture might be considerably reduced. Besides that, the new approach could save bees and monarch butterflies, which are also harmed when exposed to insecticides.

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