A real-time footage of plants talking to each other has been captured on camera for the first time by a team of Japanese scientists from the Saitama University in Japan, ushering a groundbreaking milestone in plant communication.
This significant achievement, led by molecular biologist Masatsugu Toyota, published in the journal Nature Communications, is a leading breakthrough in Plant Communication.
It features a video showing a real-time footage of plants transmitting defense responses to their neighbours captured when the researchers observed plant communications as part of their studies to explore the subject in a more detailed manner.
Working with Masatsugu Toyota on his team were Yuri Aratani, a Ph.D. student, and Takuya Uemura, a postdoctoral researcher, amongst others.
The study shows an observation of undamaged plants responding to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by other plants experiencing mechanical damage or insect attacks.
“Plants perceive volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by mechanically- or herbivore-damaged neighboring plants and induce various defense responses. Such interplant communication protects plants from environmental threats,” the authors explained.
The experimental setup used by the team included an air pump connected to a container of leaves and caterpillars and another chamber housing Arabidopsis thaliana, a common weed from the mustard family.
The Arabidopsis plants were genetically engineered to fluoresce green upon detecting calcium ions, which act as stress messengers.
Using a fluorescence microscope, the team could monitor the signals released by the undamaged plants after they received VOCs from the damaged leaves.
Plants do communicate with each other as soon as they sense danger in their neighbourhood. Scientists have knowledge of this phenomenon since the 1980s, and have identified at least 80 species who act in their defence in crisis situations.
Despite the knowledge of plant communication, it was still shrouded in mystery as to how exactly plants receive such danger signals from their neighbours until this recent study by Masatsugu Toyota and his team shedding lights on the exact communication pattern, as captured in the research video.