Science News

Prince Charles Is Right to Talk to his Plants

Sun, 5th May 2002

Part of the show Neural Development, spinal injury & spinal cord regeneration

Plants can feel pain, according to German researchers, and they talk to each other using chemical signals. Using highly sensitive microphones, Dr. Frank Kuhnemann and his colleagues found that plants release the gas ethylene (the same stuff used to make polythene) when they are under attack. The microphones could pick up a 'bubbling' sound froma healthy plant, but as soon as the plant was damaged the sound changed to a 'scream'. This finding might be useful because it can be used to predict which items of food will remain freshest for longest, and therefore which ones need to be sold soonest. A device capable of 'listening' to food could the be used to identify, for example, a cucumber that is starting to go off so it can be separated from the fresher ones. Listening to each piece of food as it is harvested would help you to decide which ones to package together and which to sell soonest.
Plants send out distress signals to warn neighbours that they may be in danger.


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