Tomato fruits send electrical warnings to the rest of the plant when attacked by insects
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
"We usually forget that a plant's fruits are living and semiautonomous parts of their mother-plants, far more complex than we currently think. Since fruits are part of the plant, made of the same tissues of the leaves and stems, why couldn't they communicate with the plant, informing it about what they are experiencing, just like regular leaves do?" says first author Dr Gabriela Niemeyer Reissig, of the Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil. "What we found is that fruits can share important information such as caterpillar attacks--which is a serious issue for a plant--with the rest of the plant, and that can probably prepare other parts of the plant for the same attack."
A tomato's defense
To test the hypothesis that fruits communicate by electrical signals, Niemeyer Reissig and her collaborators placed tomato plants in a Faraday's cage with electrodes at the ends of the branches connecting the fruits to the plant. They then measured the electrical responses before, during and after the fruits had been attacked by Helicoverpa armigera caterpillars for 24 hours. The team also used machine learning to identify patterns in the signals.
The results showed a clear difference between the signals before and after attack. In addition, the authors measured the biochemical responses, such as defensive chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, across other parts of the plant. This showed that these defenses were triggered even in parts of the plant that were far away from the damage caused by the caterpillars.
The authors emphasize that these are still early results. Their measurements provide a "big picture" view of all of the electrical signals, rather than distinguishing individual signals more precisely. It will also be interesting to see whether this phenomenon holds true for other plant species, as well as different types of threats.
That said, this novel use of machine learning appears to have very high potential for answering these and other future questions. The technique may also provide new--and possibly more environmentally friendly--approaches for insect control in agriculture.
"If studies like ours continue to advance and the techniques for measuring electrical signals in open environments continue to improve, it will be possible to detect infestation of agricultural pests quite early, allowing for less aggressive control measures and more accurate insect management," explains Niemeyer Reissig. "Understanding how the plant interacts with its fruits, and the fruits among themselves, may bring insights about how to 'manipulate' this communication for enhancing fruit quality, resistance to pests and shelf life after harvest."
Other news from the department science
Eat right, live longer: could a moderate protein diet be the coveted elixir of youth?
Researchers decode the correlation between dietary protein intake and improved metabolic health in mice
That’s not nuts: Almond milk yogurt packs an overall greater nutritional punch than dairy-based
UMass Amherst food science major completes comparison of 612 plant-based and dairy yogurts
Shrimp from Finding Nemo could help keep your white bread white
Ben-Gurion University researchers discover new principle in optics
Weed killers of the future could soon be based on failed antibiotics
Researchers discovered there were similarities between bacterial superbugs and weeds at a molecular level
Curcumin activates tumor suppressive signaling pathway
Researchers have identified a signaling pathway via which curcumin can suppress the metastasis of colorectal cancer cells
How eating natto might help to distress
Eating fermented foods might be the secret to a healthy and long-lived society
Mapping the conflict between farming and biodiversity
Knowing where uses conflict with high priority conservation areas can help policymakers to act
Nearly 70% of private label avocado oil rancid or mixed with other oils
Researchers identify key markers to help professional retail buyers choose authentic products
At the forefront of developing solutions for the food system worldwide
Powered by interdisciplinary research and teaching, the Global Food Institute at the George Washington University will deliver solutions to the biggest challenges facing our global food system.
Delicious at last: New proteins to revolutionize gluten-free baked goods
In the near future, bread could also come from the 3D printer
Most read news
Extracting the best flavor from coffee
Understanding the origin of uneven extraction in brewing espresso can improve the beverage and enable substantial financial savings by using coffee more efficiently and sustainably
Paper-based packaging has a good eco-image
Study by the University of Bonn examines how the type of packaging influences purchase intention
What makes “junk food” junk?
Study examines how three decades of U.S. policies define junk food for taxation and other regulations
More news from our other portals
Newly developed hydrogel nanocomposite for the mass production of hydrogen
“This study makes great progress in the field of photocatalysis and showcases the potential of green hydrogen production at sea with world-class performance"
Microbe of the Year 2023: Bacillus subtilis – for health and technology
Already, Bacillus subtilis is indispensable in many industries, and many more innovations are expected
Electronic noses sniff out volatile organic compounds
Improving the fluid flow inside noselike chambers can enhance detection of harmful chemicals
Artificial photosynthesis for environmentally friendly food production
Researchers produce important amino acid from greenhouse gas CO₂
Artificial intelligence identifies anti-aging drug candidates targeting ‘zombie’ cells
New platform has potential to fuel advances in senolytic anti-aging compounds and longevity research
X-ray imaging captures fleeting defects in sodium-ion batteries
A Cornell-led collaboration succeeded in identifying an elusive mechanism that can trigger degradation in sodium-ion batteries
New concept for lithium-air batteries
Research project in Germany aims to improve the stability of this novel battery type
Researchers develop new method to synthesise cannabis plant compound
cis-tetrahydrocannabinoids can now be produced synthetically, enabling pharmaceutical applications
Researchers harvest abundant clean energy from thin air, 24/7
“The air contains an enormous amount of electricity”
Verder Group acquires ERWEKA
With this acquisition, Verder Scientific expands its portfolio to include dissolution and tablet testing equipment for the pharmaceutical and life science sectors
New catalyst transforms carbon dioxide into sustainable byproduct
Researchers create acetic acid out of carbon monoxide derived from captured carbon
Launching Revvity: A Scientific Solutions Company Powering Innovation from Discovery to Cure
The Company was previously affiliated with PerkinElmer, Inc.
Pall and Cytiva join forces
Cytiva and Pall Life Sciences complete integration to create a global innovation and solutions leader in biotechnology
The World’s Smallest Impedance Spectroscopy System in the Form of a Pill Finds Weak Spots in Machines and People
Small as a candy: Waterproof IoT sensor reliably measures the properties of liquids even in hard-to-reach places
New theory explains superconductivity in spun graphene trilayers
The study, carried out by CSIC scientists, lays the foundations for understanding the mechanisms of certain unconventional superconducting materials
Insilico Medicine-led study combines quantum computing and generative AI for drug discovery
“Quantum computing is recognized as the next technology breakthrough which will make a great impact, and the pharmaceutical industry is believed to be among the first wave of industries benefiting from the advancement”
New Start-up develops aquafarms for macroalgae
AWI and Carbonwave spin-off: Large algae simultaneously bind CO₂ and create raw materials for the chemical industry
Ultra-long protein fibrils give clues on dementia risk
"AFM technology has the potential to complement conventional biomarker tests and improve the early detection of Alzheimer's"
An electric vehicle battery for all seasons
New electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries performs well in frigid regions and seasons
3D-printed pills with desired drug release – a step upwards in medication
Funny looking pills are not a design gimmick, they can release medication in a desired time regime!
AI supports analysis of metallic materials
"With our specially developed algorithm, we are three times faster"
Scientists streamline a widely used chemical reaction, creating new manufacturing opportunities
This research should have a far-reaching impact: it allows scientists to forge valuable carbon-carbon bonds used in the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries, and beyond
How to repel mosquitoes with the right soap scent
Virginia Tech researchers conduct proof-of-concept study on mosquito’s scent preferences