New Study Suggests Plants Can Listen
The aptly named mousear cress may respond to caterpillar munching sounds. Plants have long been known to react to changes in their environment, and may respond to light, temperature, and touch.
But are they listening too?
For the Arabidopsis plant, the answer is a loud and clear “yes.”
The distinct, high-amplitude vibrations produced by a cabbage butterfly caterpillar munching on a leaf of this flowering mustard plant, commonly called mousear cress, throws its defenses into high gear, according to a study published in Oecologia this month by two researchers at the University of Missouri.
The study, which combined audio and chemical analysis, is the first to find evidence that plants respond to an ecologically relevant sound in the environment, said Heidi Appel, a senior research scientist in the Division of Plant Sciences at Missouri.