Plants Also Cry, Some Animal Can Hear Them

A new study published in Cell today reveals that plants make sounds when they are thirsty or stressed. Researchers found that plants that need water or have been cut make up to 35 pounds per hour. On the other hand, well-watered plants make only one sound per hour. However, humans cannot hear these sounds because they are too high-pitched, between 20 and 100 kilohertz. Animals like bats, mice, and moths could potentially hear them. The study also shows that plants respond to sounds made by animals.

Researchers, led by Lilach Hadany at Tel-Aviv University in Israel, studied plants by placing tobacco and tomato plants in small boxes fitted with microphones. These microphones were able to pick up sounds made by the plants, even if the sounds were not audible to humans. They discovered that plants make noises more noticeably when they are stressed, either by a lack of water or by recent cutting. Lilach Hadany describes the sounds as short clicks, similar to the sound of popcorn when pitched down and sped up. However, she notes that it's not a musical or singing sound.

Click here to listen for the supposed crying voice of a plant.

Plants don't have vocal cords or lungs like humans. They might make little popping noises when air bubbles form or break in the tubes that transport water and nutrients from their roots to their stems and leaves. This can happen more often when plants are thirsty. Scientists made a computer program that can listen to these sounds to see if a plant needs water or has been cut. They tested it on tomatoes, tobacco plants, wheat, corn, and wine grapes. They found that all these plants can make sounds when thirsty.

Scientists also studied whether plants can hear sounds. They found that some plants release sweeter nectar when they hear the sound of a flying bee. However, it is still unclear if plant noises play an important role in ecosystems or influence the behavior of plants and animals. Some scientists are skeptical that animals can hear plants' sounds, but further research may help us understand more.


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