Plants can sense acoustic vibrations and they can distinguish the good ones. A study at the University of Western Australia’s Center for Evolutionary Biology showed that roots are sensitive to vibrations from water sources. Scientists discovered that plant root systems develop in the direction of water by sensing the acoustic vibrations.
In other words, plants respond to the sounds of water, rather than the presence of moisture. The study consisted of running water through a sink and playing a recording of the same to common pea plants, with their roots separated in tubes. Upon examining the roots’ response, the researchers discovered that they didn’t grow in the direction of the recording, but they did grow toward the flowing water.
So, it turns out plants can distinguish between the recording and the real deal. It’s extraordinary to discover that plants can actually tell when the sound of running water is a recording and when it’s real, and plants don’t like the recorded sounds.
Not only that, but when water was present from natural sources, like in soil, and the water i the sink was still running, the roots again grew towards the natural source. This proves that plants make choices. It also indicates a very complex relationship between sounds and a plants behavioral decisions. Up until now, scientists weren’t exactly certain how plants locate water sources when no moisture is present in the soil. Plants are also known to crush through sealed pipes to access the flowing water.
Researchers believe that plants initial choose a direction using the sonic vibrations from water, and then the roots make choices by determining moisture levels. Soundproofing pipes might protect them from an invasion of tree roots, so long as there aren’t any other leaks to betray the presence of water.
This discovery also shows that plants are completely in tune, meaning that good sonic vibes are more important for the quality of plant life than previously thought. It so means that they could be suffering the effects of acoustic pollution. More research is needed to fully understand plant and animal responses to noise, but one thing’s for sure: sound is much more important than we assume.