Do plants talk to each other?

Do plants talk to each other?🧐

While plants don’t communicate in the way humans do with spoken language, interestingly they do engage in complex chemical signaling and interactions. Let’s understand this further with this example.

The 🦒Giraffe – 🌳Acacia Tree relationship – it’s complicated!🤷🏽

In the African Savannah, the lands barely have any vegetation. There are just unending grasslands interspersed with tall Acacia mellifera trees.

Giraffes love Acacia leaves and each one can eat about 34 kg(!) of foliage every day. This can have a devastating effect on woodlands. Score: Giraffe 1 – Acacia 0

but..Acacia trees have evolved mechanisms to fight back, the first line of defense being long, vicious thorns. Giraffe 1 – Acacia 1

To overcome this, Giraffes, have evolved extremely long tongues and tough leathery lips to negotiate their way through the thorny obstacles. Giraffe 2 – Acacia 1

Acacias also mount a chemical response to predation (within just 2 mins) by producing tannins, a class of naturally occurring, bitter, astringent, polyphenolic biomolecules; The leaves go bitter instantly, Giraffe is grossed out and has digestion issues. Giraffe 2 – Acacia 2

In addition, an Acacia tree under attack will release ethylene gas, signaling other Acacia trees growing downwind to also produce tannins – their leaves turn bitter. Giraffe 2 – Acacia 3000

If a Giraffe needs to eat, he must move upwind or crosswind away from the trees on which they have been grazing. This means a low-calorie diet and more walking 🚶‍♀️🏃‍♀️for the Giraffe.

Acacia trees have yet another line of defense, an agreement with stinging ants🐜 that hollow out and live inside Acacia thorns and readily defend the trees from predators. Ants get nectar from the tree in return for protection. Giraffe 2 – Acacia 10000🏆🎖

This is just one example. There are so many others. What’s truly fascinating is the ‘wood wide web’ – tiny underground Mycorrhizal fungi Networks connecting the roots of different plants.

Through these networks, plants can share nutrients, water, and chemical signals. For example, a healthy plant might transfer nutrients to a neighboring plant that’s struggling.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, in this case, it takes a forest to raise a tree.

Here are some examples of how plants interact with each other. Heard it from the grapevine – literally 😁

  • Allelopathy🧑🏽‍🔬:

Some plants release chemicals into the soil that can inhibit the growth of nearby plants. For example, black walnut trees release juglone, which can suppress the growth of certain plants beneath them.

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)🦨🆘:

When a plant is under attack by pests, it can release volatile organic compounds into the air. Neighboring plants can detect these compounds and respond by producing chemicals that make them less appealing to pests or more resistant to disease. Volatiles can draw in pollinators when a flower is ready, and even direct them to flowers left unpollinated.

  • Warning Signals👩‍🚒:

When a plant is being eaten by an herbivore, it can release chemicals to signal nearby plants of the impending threat. This can prompt neighboring plants to start producing defensive chemicals in anticipation of an attack. Just like our Acacia trees.

  • Kin Recognition 👩🏽‍🎤👫👭:

Plants can differentiate between their own kin and unrelated plants. Research has shown that certain plants, like sea rocket, can allocate resources differently based on whether they are growing near relatives or strangers.

  • Response to Disturbances👺:

If a plant is damaged, it can release chemicals that signal neighboring plants to prepare for potential damage. This can include changes in the production of defensive compounds.

  • Symbiotic Relationships🤝:

Plants often form symbiotic relationships with other organisms. For example, nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the roots of legumes provide the plant with essential nutrients, while the plant provides the bacteria with sugars.

  • Communication with Insects🧚‍♂️:

Some plants emit scents or chemicals that attract beneficial insects, such as predators of herbivores. This is a form of indirect communication that benefits both the plant and the insect.

  • Ultrasonic sounds🎼:

new study showed many different plant species make ultrasonic sounds to communicate stress. It’s the latest evidence showing how plants “talk” with everything from predators to pollinators. Leaves detect predators or changes in light and sound, and roots monitor conditions below ground—problems with nutrients, water, and predators. For example, roots can detect drought and tell leaves to limit transpiration and conserve water. A wide range of species from tomatoes to cacti emits ultrasonic popping sounds when they’re stressed that can be heard by insects like moths, and mammals like bats and mice. Read this for more info.

These interactions are the result of complex biochemical processes that allow plants to respond to their environment and interact with other organisms in their ecosystem.

In short, the mycorrhizal network is Eywa and she’s listening😇

P.S. Do check out www.farmizen.com/academy


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