We cover our homes and our yards with handpicked plants that we view as live decor. However, we put more emphasis on decor than we do the live part. But in fact, plants have senses that we would never begin to imagine. Researchers have spent decades studying these amazing beings. Recently, scientists wanted to find out more information about a plant’s defense system. The results were astounding!
On the defense
We have known that plants can send signals, letting other parts of themselves know if they are under attack. Some respond by releasing certain chemicals while others can change colors or scents to attempt to warn off any pests. But what exactly elicits this response?
In a recent study, scientists released live caterpillars onto a plant to study its reaction. But this wasn’t just any plant. Scientists chose a plant that released calcium in response to an attack so that they could view the response through a lens that literally lit up the calcium for optimum viewing.
The fireworks show
Immediately, the caterpillars began to munch on the leaves. Slowly but surely, the plant began to light up in areas of calcium deposit. Within minutes, the calcium spread to the entire plant, sending a warning to itself to prepare for defense.
The beautiful lights delighted the researchers. It was phenomenal to watch in real-time the communication from one branch to another. However, they still were not sure where the signal originated from. So, they set out to try another plant. This plant did not have glutamate receptors, which are neurotransmitters in humans and animals.
These results led to the main discovery. The plant did not release any calcium or communication to itself upon receiving injury. In summary, the glutamate receptors seemed to be the trigger that released the calcium, playing the exact role that the receptors play for humans and animals! In fact, the researchers applied the receptors directly to the ‘wounds’. The calcium immediately began to spread out to alert the rest of the plant.
Further research is still needed to truly understand their receptor system, but there’s one thing we know for sure. Plants are much more capable of intelligent communication than we ever realized!