Plant Roots Use Sound and Vibration to Locate Water
According to a research in behavorial ecology, made by Monica Gagliano, Mavra Grimonprez, Martial Depczynski, and Michael Renton for the Oecologia journal, plant roots use sound to locate water.
Many people find that playing music to plants helps them grow better, which, naturally, scientists dismiss because plants do not work that way, according to what they have learned and observed thus far. Nevertheless new research indicates that roots were able to locate a water source by sensing the vibrations generated by water moving inside pipes, even in the absence of substrate moisture.
When both moisture and acoustic signals were available, roots preferentially used moisture in the soil over acoustic vibrations, suggesting that acoustic gradients enable roots to broadly detect a water source at a distance, while moisture gradients help them to reach their target more accurately.
The results of the research conducted on pisum sativum also showed that the presence of noise affected the abilities of roots to perceive and respond correctly to the surrounding soundscape. These findings highlight the urgent need to better understand the ecological role of sound and the consequences of acoustic pollution for plant as well as animal populations.
Monica Gagliano, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Western Australia, does not think it is absurd at all, considering her recent research discovered that plants use the sounds of nature, like the buzzing of an insect and the sound of liquid rushing through a pipe, to find water and survive.
For their investigation, pea seedlings were placed in a pot in the shape of an upside-down Y, with one arm of each pot positioned in either a tray of water or a coiled plastic tube with water flowing through it. The other arm consisted of only soil. The study found that, no matter if it was easily accessible or hidden inside the tubing, the roots grew toward the arm of the pipe with the fluid.
Gagliano believes that the plants “just knew the water was there,” regardless of the fact that they could only detect the sound of the water flowing inside the pipe. Moreover, when the seedlings had the opportunity between the flowing tube and soil that was moistened, their roots preferred the latter. According to Gagliano, when water was far away, the plants used sound waves to guide them, but when it was easily accessible, they followed moisture gradients to hone in on their target.
Monica Gagliano explains:
Because water is essential to life, organisms have evolved a wide range of strategies to cope with water limitations, including actively searching for their preferred moisture levels to avoid dehydration. Plants use moisture gradients to direct their roots through the soil once a water source is detected, but how they first detect the source is unknown... We found that roots were able to locate a water source by sensing the vibrations generated by water moving inside pipes, even in the absence of substrate moisture...
Our results also showed that the presence of noise affected the abilities of roots to perceive and respond correctly to the surrounding soundscape.
Buzz pollination, where bees buzzing at a given frequency trigger the release of pollen in plants, make Gagliano’s study results even more of a possibility.
Author Contribution Statement
- Monica Gagliano conceived and designed the experiments;
- Monica Gagliano and Mavra Grimonprez performed the experiments and collected data;
- Monica Gagliano, Martial Depczynski and Michael Renton analyzed and interpreted the data;
- Monica Gagliano and Michael Renton drafted the paper.
All authors edited and critically revised the final version, and approved its publication.
Top 10 Songs for Plants and Gardens to Thrive On
Based on findings from a Weber State University master thesis an experiment was conducted on plants and different types of music.
- Adagio for Strings, Op. 11 - Barber;
- Adagio, from Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, BWV 1051 - J. S. Bach;
- Larghetto, from Lute & Harp Concerto Op. 6 - Handel;
- A Morning Raga/An Evening Raga - Ravi Shankar;
- Concerto A 4 "Madrigalesco" in D minor, RV 129 - Vivaldi;
- Adagio for Oboe, Cello, Organ & Strings - Zipoli;
- Master of the Indian Sitar: Rash Behari Datta;
- Sinfonia from Cantata 156 - J.S. Bach;
- Adagio / Grave, from Symphony a Cinque in A Major, Op. 2 No. 3 - Albinoni;
- The Four Seasons: Summer mvt 2, Adagio - Vivaldi;