Plants ‘scream’ while they’re being harvested, new study finds

Vegetarians, we’re afraid we’ve got some news that you’re probably not going to like…

Plants emit sounds, akin to ‘screams’, when they’re distressed, according to a new study.

They allegedly produce clicking noises that humans can’t hear without the use of scientific equipment, research has found.

The research, which was published in Cell back in 2023, showed that plants produce these noises in times of acute distress.

Lilach Hadany is an evolutionary biologist at Tel Aviv University. Hadany said: “Even in a quiet field, there are actually sounds that we don’t hear, and those sounds carry information. There are animals that can hear these sounds, so there is the possibility that a lot of acoustic interaction is occurring.”

“Plants interact with insects and other animals all the time, and many of these organisms use sound for communication, so it would be very suboptimal for plants to not use sound at all.”

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The findings show that plants which are distressed have incredibly high-pitched popping noises, while unstressed plants do not emit noises. The study’s definition of distressed included plants that were having their stems cut or were dehydrated.

However, it’s not yet clear how the plants produce the noises.

“Now that we know that plants do emit sounds, the next question is – ‘who might be listening?'” Hadany said.

“We are currently investigating the responses of other organisms, both animals and plants, to these sounds, and we’re also exploring our ability to identify and interpret the sounds in completely natural environments.”

It comes after a new study suggested that western, industrial diets may be changing the way humans digest plants.

As modern diets lack fibre the way our bodies break down cellulose, found in fruits and vegetables, is changing.

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