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Home > Press > Plants ‘talk’ to plants to help them grow

Abstract:
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.

Plants ‘talk’ to plants to help them grow

London, UK | Posted on May 8th, 2013

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 chemical signals, 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 seed germination in the same way. We believe that the answer may involve acoustic signals generated using nanomechanical oscillations from inside the cell which allow rapid communication between nearby plants."

Full bibliographic information

Love thy neighbour: facilitation through an alternative signalling modality in plants
Monica Gagliano and Michael Renton
BMC Ecology (in press/May 2013)

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About BioMed Central Limited
BioMed Central is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

About BMC Ecology

BMC Ecology is an open access, peer-reviewed journal that considers articles on environmental, behavioral and population ecology as well as biodiversity of plants, animals and microbes.

For more information, please click here

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Dr Hilary Glover
Scientific Press Officer, BioMed Central
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