Share it! Science : Plants Respond to More than Rock and Roll

Monday, September 8, 2014

Plants Respond to More than Rock and Roll

Throughout the history of the science fair, many a student has tackled the question: "How do different types of music affect the growth of plants?" It turns out that might be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding the way a plant interacts and reacts to stimulus. A study out of the University of Missouri has shown that plants use their ability to detect certain vibrations, such as those caused by being chewed on by a predator, to increase their production of chemical defenses. Heidi Appel, a plant biologist and Rex Cocroft, who studies insects, collaborated to study how plants "hear" their predators. They found that plants produce more defense chemicals when they experience the exact vibrations caused by the chewing of a caterpillar. Other vibrations or motion of the plant, such as wind blowing, or vibrations caused by insects making sounds did not cause the plant to increase defenses. The plant was able to differentiate between a harmful vibration and an innocuous one. This is just one small peek into the intricate relationships found in the plant and animal world. Studies like these could certainly help us understand how to help defend plants and crops more naturally. It will be fascinating to see what else we will learn!

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Video about this study:

Plant Activities for Kids:

The classic "How do different types of music affect the growth of plants?" Science Fair Project

Plant games and activities from the National Forest Service, U.S. Botanical Garden and more!

Indoor plant experiments for kids

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