Sorry Vegetarians: Plants Can Feel

Posted: May 31 2016, 7:03am CDT | by , Updated: May 31 2016, 7:06am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Sorry Vegetarians: Plants Can Fell
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Though you probably are safe eating that salad.

Many plants lovers have argued that they have feelings, and now Australian scientists have found even more evidence that plants are really able to feel when we are touching them.

Think about that the next time you are eating a salad.

Not only can they feel touch, but these sensations trigger a bunch of genetic and psychological changes. They are able to tell the difference between a few drops of rain, someone stamping overtop of them, or even someone pulling them out of the ground.

"Although people generally assume plants don’t feel when they are being touched, this shows that they are actually very sensitive to it," said lead researcher Olivier Van Aken from the University of Western Australia. "While plants don’t appear to complain when we pinch a flower, step on them or just brush by them while going for a walk, they are fully aware of this contact and are rapidly responding to our treatment of them," he added.

Now, don't get ahead of yourself and start thinking about what you can eat now that you know they can fee. The whole thing might sound really cute and adorable, but plants can't think and don't have brains quite the way we do.

"Feel" doesn't necessarily resemble the way we percept things.

We've known previously that plants are affected by their surroundings: they can "hear" insects and release chemicals so that they don't chew on them. They are also able to communicate with each other using fungus.

The belief is that the plants "feel" so that they are able to respond to the weather so that they can take advantage of the weather or so that they can prepare themselves for any potential danger.

Another finding is that, when plants are sprayed with water droplets, thousands of genes changed the way they were expressed. This was a dramatic physiological response that is deeply interesting to scientists.

"We were able to show that this response was not caused by any active compounds in the spray but rather by the physical contact caused by water drops landing on the leaf surface," says Van Aken.

After finding out about the water, that is when they started wondering about whether or not touch would play a role in how they act, according to the journal Plant Physiology.

"Unlike animals, plants are unable to run away from harmful conditions. Instead, plants appear to have developed intricate stress defense systems to sense their environment and help them detect danger and respond appropriately," says Van Aken.

Most importantly, the study was able to identify two proteins that the plants responded to, which could help plants in controlled environments like greenhouses.

Of course, one study isn't enough to really change everything about what we know about plant perception, but it could lead to more research within the field.

Another little piece of information is that plants don't respond to singing or touching: "As yet, there's no evidence to back the idea held by some people that the vibrations caused by just talking to plants has a strong enough effect to move plants," Van Aken said.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/46" rel="author">Noel Diem</a>
Noel passion is to write about geek culture.




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