Sunday, September 09, 2007


I knew it all along! Better be careful what you say in front of your house plant. Seems that scientists believe they have found "a set of sound-responsive genes in plants" in what other experts said would be an astonishing finding.

Astonishing maybe. Surprising not really according to an article focusing on this subject.

Plants are known to respond to light, temperature, touch and vibration, and the South Korean team, led by Dr Mi-Jeong Jeong, decided to investigate whether they could also respond to sound in some way.

They played classical music, such as Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, Clair de Lune by Debussy and Winter from Vivaldi's Four Seasons, to a rice crop. The plants appeared unmoved.

Perhaps - just speculation now - rice prefers rock music...or even elevator-music-type stuff.

However, when single notes were played, the scientists noticed an effect on two genes known to respond to light, New Scientist magazine reports today. These became more active when exposed to a high-pitched sound and less active when a low one was played.

"As far as we know, this is the first report of characterisation of plant sound-responsive genes."
This might cast a different light on the comment by the Prince of Wales, who reportedly told a television interviewer in the mid-1980s: "I just come and talk to the plants, really. It's very important to talk. They respond, don't they?"

So the future King of England talks to plants so there has to be something to it. No? Then again, some people believe that some royals have been known to be - how shall we say - imaginative.

Dr Jeong's team plans to look into the matter further.

"I would be astonished if plants could tell the difference [between types of music]. But you never know," he said. "This would be of large interest to the plant community in general if it were true, but it's a very big claim."

Dr Wigge said vibration caused by sound waves might have something to do with the Korean team's results, but added the effect on the genes was so small it could also be "natural variation".

"We know plants are responsive to wind and sense touch and vibration, so that could be having an effect," he said.

Dr Wigge said people had looked "very hard" for decades for signs of something more to plants.
"There was a claim that plants were sensitive and they had feelings; plants had a mood and it depended on electrical currents," he said. "All these studies, unfortunately, have never panned out."

Those non plant-likers are so negative but we plant lovers know different. Mine like Justin Timberlake and Phil Collins. Don't ask how I know. I just do.

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