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Plants talk via non-chemical vibrations….

May 8, 2013

Over the past year or so I’ve seen more and more research and findings concerning the topic of plant communication. Here are some previous articles I’ve posted on the subject of plant communication. And below, a brief article on the subject, regarding companion planting, how and why it can help or inhibit germination and growth:

Plants ‘Talk’ to Plants to Help Them Grow

May 7, 2013 — 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

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.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Monica Gagliano and Michael Renton. Love thy neighbour: facilitation through an alternative signalling modality in plants. BMC Ecology, 2013 DOI: 10.1186/1472-6785-13-19

Here is a link to the original article on ScienceDaily…


4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 8, 2013 10:08:34 pm

    Glad to see we Aussies are still making progress in horticultural science :). Companion planting just got a scientific boost! 🙂

    • May 8, 2013 10:08:00 pm

      Yay for science!

      Despite the fact that I am an advocate and practitioner of companion planting (based on a very unscientific intuitive logic), often these scientific studies make me skeptical. I wonder what unseen variables are they controlling for? Are they controlling for lunar cycles, for instance? Seeds planted during a waning lunar phase will germinate at different rates then seeds planted during a waxing phase, regardless of what other seeds they are germinating next to.

      That said, I’m glad science is making an effort to consider that non-human organisms have the ability to communicate. Someday it may even dawn on “science” that communication via chemical release and non-chemical vibrations may actually be more sophisticated and highly evolved then the meat-flapping blabber form of communication that humans engage in. Onward and upward!

      • May 8, 2013 10:08:14 pm

        😉 Right on the mark! You are absolutely right about the lunar planting cycle and I dare say most scientists haven’t been made aware of it’s importance. Maybe some of we “crazy hippy gardeners” could initiate a truly scientific study incorporating all of our own variables? Now THAT would be interesting! University…here I come! 🙂


  1. Plants use acoustic signaling to communicate… | anthropogen

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