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A major discovery has recently been made: plants emit sounds, but these are inaudible to the human ear. Ultrasounds produced by plants are usually emitted in response to stress, and each plant and each type of stress emits a specific, identifiable sound. These results were published in the scientific journal Cell, following a study conducted by researchers at Tel Aviv University. The results of this study, already published as a preprint in 2019, suggest the existence of plant sounds, similar to the clicking of popcorn, produced by plants under stress.
Ultrasounds produced by plants are recorded at frequencies between 20 and 100 KHz, well above the range of sound frequencies audible to the human ear, which rarely exceeds 16 KHz. The researchers placed ultrasonic microphones recording sounds about 10 cm from each plant, in an acoustic box, without any background noise.
These sounds produced by plants are influenced by their condition, such as drought or cut stems. The study mainly focused on tomato and tobacco plants, but other plants such as wheat, corn, cactus and henbit (a flower) were also recorded. The results suggest that this property may apply to the entire plant kingdom.
Although these sounds are imperceptible to the human ear, they can probably be heard by various animals, such as bats and mice.
This discovery challenges our understanding of the plant world and opens new perspectives for botanical research.
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