Plants 'talk' to plants to help them grow

May 06, 2013
Chile pepper (Capsicum annuum). Credit: Wikipedia.

Having a neighborly chat improves seed germination, finds research in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Ecology. Even when other known means of communication, such as contact, chemical and light-mediated signals, are blocked chilli seeds grow better when grown with basil plants. This suggests that plants are talking via nanomechanical vibrations.

Monica Gagliano and Michael Renton from the University of Western Australia attempted to grow chilli seeds (Capsicum annuum) in the presence or absence of other chilli plants, or basil (Ocimum basilicum). In the absence of a neighboring plant, germination rates were very low, but when the plants were able to openly communicate with the seeds more seedlings grew.

However when the seeds were separated from the basil plants with black plastic, so that they could not be influenced by either light or , they germinated as though they could still communicate with the basil. A partial response was seen for fully grown chilli plants blocked from known communication with the seeds.

Dr Gagliano explained, "Our results show that plants are able to positively influence growth of seeds by some as yet unknown mechanism. Bad neighbors, such as fennel, prevent chilli in the same way. We believe that the answer may involve generated using nanomechanical from inside the cell which allow rapid communication between nearby plants."

Explore further: Call for alternative identification methods for endangered species

More information: Love thy neighbour: facilitation through an alternative signalling modality in plants Monica Gagliano and Michael Renton BMC Ecology (in press)

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User comments : 8

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angelhkrillin
2 / 5 (4) May 06, 2013
Awesome, This shows that it may be the same mechanism plants use to communicate with bees and attract them with electromagnetic signals.
tpb
2.3 / 5 (3) May 07, 2013
I vote for telepathy or gravity waves instead of nanomechanical acoustic signals.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (6) May 07, 2013
It's the "Force", the electric force. Well, at least "communication"/connection via electric fields.
JRi
not rated yet May 07, 2013
Why would they think it's the acustic signals that the plants use for communication? I mean, they did not show any evidence for the existence of such thing. On the other hand, fennel has very strong odor that comes from aromatic compounds. I would rather think those could mess up chemical communication between the chilli plants.
alfie_null
not rated yet May 07, 2013
It's the "Force", the electric force. Well, at least "communication"/connection via electric fields.

Care to cite something?

It would be an easy experiment to disprove. Sprout seeds enclosed in Faraday cages, either adjacent to or not, grown plants.
QuixoteJ
2 / 5 (4) May 07, 2013
I wonder if it has anything to do with the root systems interacting/fighting/communicating. Seems like the researchers only concentrated on what's above the soil. They didn't specify how much distance was meant by "neighboring", though, so maybe the plants weren't very close to each other.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (5) May 07, 2013
It's the "Force", the electric force. Well, at least "communication"/connection via electric fields.

Care to cite something?

It would be an easy experiment to disprove. Sprout seeds enclosed in Faraday cages, either adjacent to or not, grown plants.

Here is an article that discusses how bees "communicate" with flower via electric fields.
http://phys.org/n...lds.html

Then there's 'Star Wars', with all kinds of references to the "Force"...
Stephen_Crowley
1 / 5 (3) May 07, 2013
Very cool to see confirmation appearing here on phys.org. Something similar to this was noted in the book "The Source Field Investigations"

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