Thursday, May 18, 2017

Plants Are Aware When They Are Being Consumed

This news caught my attention. 

Consider it a follow up to: Vegetarian Diet? No Panacea for Environment or Health- Meat Lies Told To Justify Meat Tax

Eating plants also kills the plant. In other words vegetarians are consuming death- plant death- and insect death. Pollinator death. Etc. That's one of the memes regarding meat consumption- "You're eating death"There is no consumption for survival, by any living creature, that does not depend completely on other life being lost.
 I have no issue with this concept. It’s completely sensible. Plants emit all types of signals/communications. To their pollinators. How do you think pollinators find their plants in need of pollination?. It's not random. Link
Electric signal exchange is likely just one way
Flowers exploit insects to achieve pollination; at the same time insects exploit flowers for food. Insects and flowers are a partnership.
Each insect group has evolved different sets of mouthparts to exploit the food that flowers provide. From the insects' point of view collecting nectar or pollen is rather like fitting a key into a lock; the mouthparts of each species can only exploit flowers of a certain size and shape.
Plants use electric fields to communicate with bees, scientists have learned.
Bumblebees are able to find and decipher weak electric signals emitted by flowers, according to the study.
Tests revealed that bees can distinguish between different floral fields, as if they were petal colours. The electric signals may also let the insects know if another bee has recently visited a flower.
Why not an awareness with protective response!  It makes sense for survival of the living plant and it's extended family

Link
Experiments show chewing vibrations, but not wind or insect song, cause response
As the cabbage butterfly caterpillar takes one crescent-shaped bite at a time from the edge of a leaf, it doesn’t go unnoticed.

This tiny Arabidopsis mustard plant hears its predator loud and clear as chewing vibrations reverberate through leaves and stems, and it reacts with chemical defenses. Plants have long been known to detect sound, but why they have this ability has remained a mystery.
University of Missouri experiments mark the first time scientists have shown that a plant responds to an ecologically relevant sound in its environment.
 “What is surprising and cool is that these plants only create defense responses to feeding vibrations and not to wind or other vibrations in the same frequency as the chewing caterpillar,” said Heidi Appel, an investigator at MU’s Bond Life Sciences Center and senior research scientist in the Division of Plant Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
 “these plants only create defense responses to feeding vibrations”. Which indicates plants can discern. They can discern threat from non threat and can respond in kind.

Moved by the sound

Recording the sound is just the start.

You can’t put headphones on a leaf, so tiny piezoelectric actuators – essentially a tiny speaker that plays back vibrations instead of airborne sound – is required.

“It’s a delicate process to vibrate leaves the way a caterpillar does while feeding, because the leaf surface is only vibrated up and down by about 1/10,000 of an inch,” Cocroft said. “But we can attach an actuator to the leaf with wax and very precisely play back a segment of caterpillar feeding to recreate a typical 2-hour feeding session.”

Appel and Cocroft tested whether these chewing sounds could create more chemical defenses in the plants and whether these feeding recordings primed defenses when played before an actual caterpillar ate part of a leaf.

“We looked at glucosinolates that make mustards spicy and have anticancer properties and anthocyanins that give red wine its color and provide some of the health benefits to chocolate, Appel said. “When the levels of these are higher, the insects walk away or just don’t start feeding.”

The researchers played 2 hours of silence to some Arabidopsis plants and 2 hours of caterpillar-chewing noises to others. They then chose three leaves around the plant, and allowed caterpillars to eat about a third of each leaf.  After giving the plants 24 to 48 hours to respond to the caterpillar attack, they harvested the leaves for chemical analysis.

When they found higher levels of glucosinolates in the plants that were exposed to chewing vibrations, they knew they were on the right track.

A similar second experiment went further, testing whether the plants would simply respond to any vibration, or whether their response was specific to chewing vibrations. In this case Appel analyzed anthocyanins, which again were elevated – but only when plants had been exposed to chewing vibrations but not to vibrations created by wind or the sounds of a non-harmful insect.

The National Science Foundation seems to agree with the merit of their endeavor, awarding a grant to extend this project.

The next step includes looking at how other types of plants respond to insect predator sounds and pinpointing precisely what features of the sounds trigger the change in plant defenses.

These questions aim to further basic research understanding of how plants know what’s going on to respond appropriately to their environment. This could one day lead to ways to create better plants.
 Sadly, rather then just gaining  better understanding about how it is plants sense and respond, Science, of course, has to manipulate the understanding for ownership and profit- Sickens and angers me to think of this atrocious behaviour - and the stupidity of manipulating plant life “to make better plants”- When we already have the perfect plant life for our needs and the needs of this planet. Including plant pollinators.


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