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J Exp Bot. 2016 Aug;67(15):4483-94. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erw235. Epub 2016 Jun 23.

Plant acoustics: in the search of a sound mechanism for sound signaling in plants.

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Department of Biotechnology, Yeungnam University, Gyeongsan, Gyeongbook 38541, Republic of Korea.
Department of Biotechnology, Yeungnam University, Gyeongsan, Gyeongbook 38541, Republic of Korea


Being sessile, plants continuously deal with their dynamic and complex surroundings, identifying important cues and reacting with appropriate responses. Consequently, the sensitivity of plants has evolved to perceive a myriad of external stimuli, which ultimately ensures their successful survival. Research over past centuries has established that plants respond to environmental factors such as light, temperature, moisture, and mechanical perturbations (e.g. wind, rain, touch, etc.) by suitably modulating their growth and development. However, sound vibrations (SVs) as a stimulus have only started receiving attention relatively recently. SVs have been shown to increase the yields of several crops and strengthen plant immunity against pathogens. These vibrations can also prime the plants so as to make them more tolerant to impending drought. Plants can recognize the chewing sounds of insect larvae and the buzz of a pollinating bee, and respond accordingly. It is thus plausible that SVs may serve as a long-range stimulus that evokes ecologically relevant signaling mechanisms in plants. Studies have suggested that SVs increase the transcription of certain genes, soluble protein content, and support enhanced growth and development in plants. At the cellular level, SVs can change the secondary structure of plasma membrane proteins, affect microfilament rearrangements, produce Ca(2+) signatures, cause increases in protein kinases, protective enzymes, peroxidases, antioxidant enzymes, amylase, H(+)-ATPase / K(+) channel activities, and enhance levels of polyamines, soluble sugars and auxin. In this paper, we propose a signaling model to account for the molecular episodes that SVs induce within the cell, and in so doing we uncover a number of interesting questions that need to be addressed by future research in plant acoustics.


Acoustics; perception; plants; response; signaling; stimulus.

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