The audible sound of plants
Stressed plants make audible sounds, documents The New York Times international edition (15-16 April 2023). The results of a plant study published in the Cell journal in March 2023 showed that plants make popping sounds similar to human knuckles cracking.
Lilach Hadany, a biologist at Tel Aviv University in Israel, worked with Yossi Yovel who studies bat sounds. They placed tomato plants in soundproof boxes with microphones pointing at their stems.
The researchers found that the plants made sounds. Not only that, but the plants made specific sounds according to different stressors. A machine-learning program could correctly tell, with 70% accurately, whether a grumbling plant was thirsty or at risk of having its flower head snapped off!
The sounds that the tomato plants made were too high-pitched for humans to hear, but animals such as mice and moths could hear the sounds.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls