When plants are talking to grow together.
It may sound strange but its true. We all know the connection between plants but did you know they actually talk to one another! The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences discovered this recently during a study.
The research was did on corn and it appeared than corn plants use two differents way to talk together. As you can see on the picture above they exchange chemical messages activated by touching, and below the soil, by the roots. This communication encourages each others to not grow in competition.
To prove it, the researchers caressed the seedlings with a soft brush to simulate the touch of a nearby plant leaf then they collected the chemical secreted by the roots. The next step was exposing new plants to this solution to see the outcome.
And here it is, the chemicals mean the plant was producing more leaves and less roots so as not to outcompete each other.
This suggests plants, when they know they're in competition, after feeling the secretion, prioritise the leaf than the roots to get more sunlight to survive.
To compare the plant with their neighbours, scientists collected the secretion of a plant without any neighbours. They then gave it to an another plant and they saw the plant grew preferentially toward the solution from the untouched plants. Suggesting that it could tell the difference between the two solutions.
Lead author Velemir Ninkovic says: "Our study demonstrated that changes induced by above ground mechanical contact between plants can affect below ground interactions, acting as cues in prediction of the future competitors."