Media Blog

PETA’s Worst Nightmare

Plants can communicate with each other:

Plants chatter amongst themselves to spread information, a lot like humans and other animals, new research suggests.
A unique internal network apparently allows greens to warn each other against predators and potential enemies.
Many herbal plants such as strawberry, clover, reed and ground elder naturally form a set of connections to share information with each other through channels known as runners—horizontal stems that physically bond the plants like tubes or cables along the soil surface and underground. Though connected to vertical stems, runners eventually form new buds at the tips and ultimately form a network of plants.
“Network-like plants do not usually produce vertical stems but their stems lie flat on the ground and can hence be used as network infrastructure,” said researcher Josef Stuefer from the Radboud University in the Netherlands.
Stuefer and his team let loose caterpillars on white clover plants and watched them eat a single leaf on the network. Then a second set of caterpillars was allowed to choose between the damaged leaf—one that has been alerted to up its defense status—and leaves from an undamaged network.
Over the course of 20 trials, most or all of the approximately 15 caterpillars in each trial preferred the undamaged leaf to the leaf from a damaged network.
“The feeding caterpillars will be deterred and walk off to feed on other non-induced plants,” Stuefer told LiveScience. “[They] understand plant defense language very well as it is directed exactly to them.”

Most Popular

Culture

What Self-Help Guru Tony Robbins Was Trying to Say

Tony Robbins must have known immediately that he'd made a huge mistake in how he responded to a question about #MeToo. Last month, at one of Robbins's popular, sold-out seminars, audience member Nanine McCool told the self-help guru that she thought he misunderstood the #MeToo movement. You can see the entire ... Read More
Sports

The Dominant-Sport Theory of American Politics

I think it’s safe to assert that President Trump has an unfortunate tendency to do and say (and tweet) embarrassing things. When he does, we all join in the condemnation, and often it’s not so much for the substance as for the style. The president of the United States should be dignified, measured, slow to ... Read More
Film & TV

Little Pink House Speaks Truth to Power

Coming soon to a cinema near you—you can make this happen; read on—is a bite-your-nails true-story thriller featuring heroes, villains, and a history-making struggle over . . . the Constitution’s Takings Clause. Next February 24, Little Pink House will win the Oscar for Best Picture if Hollywood’s ... Read More