The research team
In a world first, Tel Aviv University researchers record and analyze sounds distinctly emitted by plants
Do you talk to your plants? While you may not be able to hear them, your plants could very well be chatting away as well (perhaps they are not such great listeners after all), and that’s especially true if they are having a bad day (did you forget to water them again?). For the first time in the world, TAU researchers recorded and analyzed sounds distinctly emitted by plants. The click-like sounds, resembling the popping of popcorn, are emitted at a volume similar to human speech, but at high frequencies, beyond the hearing range of the human ear. The researchers: “We found that plants usually emit sounds when they are under stress, and that each plant and each type of stress is associated with a specific identifiable sound. While imperceptible to the human ear, the sounds emitted by plants can probably be heard by various animals, such as bats, mice, and insects.”
“From previous studies we know that vibrometers attached to plants record vibrations, but do these vibrations also become airborne soundwaves – sounds that can be recorded from a distance? Our study addressed this question, which researchers have been debating for many years.” Prof. Lilach Hadany
Resolving Old Scientific Controversy
The study was led by Prof. Lilach Hadany from the School of Plant Sciences and Food Security at The George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, together with Prof. Yossi Yovel, Head of the Sagol School of Neuroscience and faculty member at the School of Zoology and the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, and research students Itzhak Khait and Ohad Lewin-Epstein, in collaboration with researchers from the Raymond and Beverly Sackler School of Mathematical Sciences, the Institute for Cereal Crops Research, and the Sagol School of Neuroscience – all at Tel Aviv University. The paper was published in the prestigious scientific journal Cell.
“From previous studies we know that vibrometers attached to plants record vibrations,” says Prof. Hadany. “But do these vibrations also become airborne soundwaves – sounds that can be recorded from a distance? Our study addressed this question, which researchers have been debating for many years.”
WATCH: Prof. Yossi Yovel and Prof. Lilach Hadany on their findings
At the first stage of the study the researchers placed plants in an acoustic box in a quiet, isolated basement with no background noise. Ultrasonic microphones recording sounds at frequencies of 20-250 kilohertz (the maximum frequency detected by a human adult is about 16 kilohertz) were set up at a distance of about 10cm from each plant. The study focused mainly on tomato and tobacco plants, but wheat, corn, cactus and henbit were also recorded.
“Our findings suggest that the world around us is full of plant sounds, and that these sounds contain information – for example about water scarcity or injury (…) We believe that humans can also utilize this information, given the right tools – such as sensors that tell growers when plants need watering.” – Prof. Lilach Hadany
Mapping Plants’ Complaints with AI
Before placing the plants in the acoustic box, the researchers subjected them to various treatments: some plants had not been watered for five days, in some the stem had been cut, and some were untouched. Prof. Hadany explains that their intention was to test whether the plants emit sounds, and whether these sounds are affected in any way by the plant’s condition: “Our recordings indicated that the plants in our experiment emitted sounds at frequencies of 40-80 kilohertz. Unstressed plants emitted less than one sound per hour, on average, while the stressed plants – both dehydrated and injured – emitted dozens of sounds every hour.”
The recordings collected in this way were analyzed by specially developed machine learning (AI) algorithms. The algorithms learned how to distinguish between different plants and different types of sounds, and were ultimately able to identify the plant and determine the type and level of stress from the recordings. Moreover, the algorithms identified and classified plant sounds even when the plants were placed in a greenhouse with a great deal of background noise.
In the greenhouse, the researchers monitored plants subjected to a process of dehydration over time and found that the quantity of sounds they emitted increased up to a certain peak, and then diminished.
“In this study we resolved a very old scientific controversy: we proved that plants do emit sounds!” says Prof. Hadany. “Our findings suggest that the world around us is full of plant sounds, and that these sounds contain information – for example about water scarcity or injury. We assume that in nature the sounds emitted by plants are detected by creatures nearby, such as bats, rodents, various insects, and possibly also other plants – that can hear the high frequencies and derive relevant information. We believe that humans can also utilize this information, given the right tools – such as sensors that tell growers when plants need watering. Apparently, an idyllic field of flowers can be a rather noisy place. It’s just that we can’t hear the sounds.”
In future studies the researchers will continue to explore a range of intriguing questions, such as: What is the mechanism behind plant sounds? How do moths detect and react to sounds emitted by plants? Do other plants also hear these sounds? Stay tuned.
Original Article: Plants Emit Sounds – Especially When Stressed
More from: Tel Aviv University
The Latest Updates from Bing News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Gloucester plant wall work to begin at Forum in bid to reduce pollution
Work is set to begin on a green wall aimed at reducing both noise and air pollution and increasing biodiversity in. The wall, at the Forum, will see plants cover an are ...
- IAEA experts report hearing more explosions near Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
have reported hearing an explosion near the plant, followed by the sound of gunfire near or at the plant. Source: press release on the IAEA website Quote: "Early on Wednesday morning, the experts ...
- Best Plants For Frogs: 7 Plant Varieties To Bring More Froggies To Your Yard
A frog-friendly environment is one of the key indicators for garden health – so if you want to improve the health of your plot, here are seven plants for frogs you need to try ...
- Over the Garden Fence: The art of kokedama
Kokedamas are a centuries-old Japanese moss-covered mud or soil ball growing medium which sustains a selected living plant. Sounds simple. It is. Koke means moss and dama means ball. A short ...
- Demolition delayed for DTE Trenton Channel Power Plant stacks
which is expected to last about a minute and sound like thunder. All hazardous materials have been removed from the site, according to the utility. Trenton Channel Power Plant, the old coal-fired ...
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- A visit to the Cadbury factory - The sweetest place on Earth
When the factory was built over the river Bourn in 1879 ... but everyone at Cadbury has an infectious joviality. From the hot-shot nano-technologist who oversees the “top secret” micro-particle in ...
- The Weird, Wacky Gizmos and Gadgets We Saw at MWC 2024
Have you played "Doom" on a robot lawn mower? We did. From app-free phones to an electric bike with AI and 5G, we’ve combed the halls of the Mobile World Congress in search of all things quirky and ...
- West Bengal’s arc of violence continues unabated
Raking up communal passions in West Bengal tends to accentuate social and political fault lines — a phenomenon that unfortunately suits the BJP’s electoral and ideological plan. The recent unravelling ...
- Calcutta HC Judge Recuses From Tata Singur Case
Justice Mousumi Bhattacharya of the Calcutta High Court has recused from hearing the case on West Bengal Industrial Developmen ...
- The $2500 Car That Was Supposed to Run on Compressed Air
Yet, around the same time, Tata Motors was struggling mightily with the production of any kind of Nano at all. In 2006, the automaker announced that it would build a new factory in West Bengal ...