The world of plants is violent, like almost any other world on this planet. When insects or animals intend to eat a plant, the latter can not escape its fate of being eaten, Pravda.Ru reports.
Instead, flora fight back with noxious chemicals. But what repels one critter may not work on the next hungry mouth, explains Heidi Appel, a senior research scientist in the Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri. According to the scientist, some plants can actually hear their attackers noshing away, discern which species is chowing down-and respond accordingly to each assailant.
In other words, plants can hear and feel touch. The sensory systems of plants are far more complex than previously realized. "They are way more clever than we give them credit for," she says. They also have their own way of seeing, she points out-just watch a seedling grow toward a light source-and smelling, too, in how they sense volatiles released as warning signals by other plants.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers applied about 87 million pounds of insecticides to crops in 2007 (the most recent data available). And at least one type of those chemicals, neonicotinoids, are known to harm bees and monarch butterflies. Appel, who often collaborates with her husband, Jack Schultz, head of the Bond Life Sciences Center, hopes their work will help find ways to control insects without traditional insecticides.
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