The chattering classes are growing strongly!
He was mocked the land over, and has never been allowed to forget it. Today, though, scientists are backing his claim.
They have discovered that not only do plants respond to sound, but also communicate with each other in a constant chatter.
BristolUniversityresearchers used powerful loudspeakers to listen to corn saplings, and heard clicking sounds coming from their roots.
When they suspended the saplings’ roots in water and played a continuous noise at a similar frequency to the clicks, the plants grew towards it.
Plants are known to lean towards light as they are growing, and an earlier study this year atExeterUniversityfound that cabbages emitted a volatile gas to warn others of the dangers of caterpillars, or even garden shears.
The researchers believe this is the first genuine evidence that plants have their own language of noises, inaudible to human ears. They suspect sound and vibration may play an important role in their life.
Daniel Robert, a biology professor atBristolUniversity, said: “These noisy little clicks have the potential to constitute a channel of communication between the roots.”
Monica Gagliano, lead author of the study, from theUniversityofWestern Australia, believes it makes sense for plants to produce and respond to sound vibrations.
Dr Gagliano said: “It gives them information about the environment around them, and the research opens up a new debate on the perception and action of people towards plants.”
Sounding as nutty as Prince Charles did all those years ago, he added: “The plants should, perhaps, be treated as living beings in their own right.”
The research also involved placing sweet fennel, which releases chemicals that hamper the growth of other plants, near chilli seeds. When the chemicals were allowed to reach the seeds, their growth was hampered, as expected.
But when the chemicals were prevented from reaching them, they grew faster than expected.
The scientists believe they were still able to sense the presence of the fennel, probably by detecting a noise or vibration, and grew faster to protect themselves.
The study has been published in the journal Trends in Plant Science.
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