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Author Topic: Can plants communicate via chemical messengers?  (Read 3747 times)

Offline Alan McDougall

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Can plants communicate via chemical messengers?
« on: 21/10/2008 06:35:53 »
http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/081017-plants-cry.html

I thought this might be of interest.


Plants Cry For Help
By LiveScience Staff
posted: 17 October 2008 03:28 pm ET
1 of 1

When injured, plants can cry for help via a chemical phone call to the roots.
If under attack by a pathogen, such as disease-causing bacteria, a plant's leaf can send out an S.O.S. to the roots for help, and the roots will then secrete an acid that brings beneficial bacteria to the rescue, scientists announced today. The finding builds on research earlier this year showing that parasitic plants can tap into a host plant's communication system.

"Plants are a lot smarter than we give them credit for," said Harsh Bais, assistant professor of plant and soil sciences at the University of Delaware. "People think that plants, rooted in the ground, are just sitting ducks when it comes to attack by harmful fungi or bacteria, but we've found that plants have ways of seeking external help," he notes.

To figure this out, Bais and colleagues infected the leaves of the small flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana with a pathogenic bacterium, Pseudomonas syringae. The plants started to look sickly.

However, the infected plants whose roots had been inoculated with the beneficial microbe Bacillus subtilis were perfectly healthy.
Farmers often add B. subtilis to the soil to boost plant immunity. It forms a protective biofilm around plant roots and also has antimicrobial properties, Bais said.

Using molecular biological tools, the scientists detected the transmission of a long-distance signal, a “call for help,” from the leaves to the roots in the plants that had Bacillus in the soil. The roots responded by secreting a carbon-rich chemical — malic acid.

All plants biosynthesize malic acid, Bais explains, but only under specific conditions and for a specific purpose. In the lab tests, the chemical was actively secreted to attract Bacillus. Magnified images of the roots and leaves showed the ratcheted-up defense response provided by the beneficial microorganisms.

The scientists are now trying to figure out exactly what the signal is that's sent down to the roots.

The research, funded by the National Science Foundation and the university, will be detailed in the November issue of the journal Plant Physiology.



 

Offline chris

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Can plants communicate via chemical messengers?
« Reply #1 on: 22/11/2008 17:55:26 »
Yes, plants are quite literally eavesdropping (or should that be "leavesdropping") on the chemical conversations going on around them in order to pick up warning signals that pests or herbivores might be about to attack them,  the growth behaviour of other plants and so on. I don't think we should be surprised at this, however, since it would be rather bizarre for them not to respond to the environment in this way. Plants are, after all, much more vulnerable because they are quite literally rooted to the spot and therefore have a tougher time defending themselves than more mobile organisms that can move away when needed.

Chris
 

Offline tkadm30

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Re: Can plants communicate via chemical messengers?
« Reply #2 on: 23/05/2016 11:24:15 »
Wikipedia has a nice article on plant perception and communication.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_perception_%28physiology%29
« Last Edit: 23/05/2016 11:35:35 by tkadm30 »
 

Offline Earthchild

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Re: Can plants communicate via chemical messengers?
« Reply #3 on: 13/06/2016 01:41:56 »
I'm tempted to think that we don't know that much yet about plants' communication methods with great accuracy.  Plant hormones aren't that well understood yet, even though they are essential for healthy plant life - I think there are still suspected to be hormones that aren't yet identified and thus what they may be responsible for.  If we're not that knowledgeable about basic growth regulators - hormones - it's not surprising to me that we perhaps are similarly in the dark about the more intricate stuff that they may be doing - potentially inter/intra plant.  Some non-plant species interact with plants by having systems that can mimic or interact with plants' own systems, either beneficially or detrimintally, such as fungi species with many plants.

It's certainly a very interesting field.
 

Offline Alan McDougall

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Re: Can plants communicate via chemical messengers?
« Reply #4 on: 13/06/2016 03:27:25 »
It is a fact that plants will pass information between each other to avoid being completely consumed by an animal, say a giraffe.

As it eats it way through the bush  trees such as the Acacia sent out chemical messages to other nearby trees, which in turn then bring up toxins from its roots to make the leaves much less palatable.

The giraffe then moves on out of the area, seeking more tasty food!

Alan
 

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Re: Can plants communicate via chemical messengers?
« Reply #4 on: 13/06/2016 03:27:25 »

 

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