Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Get touchy feely with plants: Gently rubbing them with your fingers can make them less susceptible to disease

Date:
September 12, 2013
Source:
BioMed Central Limited
Summary:
Forget talking to plants to help them grow, gently rubbing them with your fingers can make them less susceptible to disease, a new article reveals. Gently rubbing the leaves of thale cress plants (Arabidsopsis thaliana) between thumb and forefinger activates an innate defense mechanism, scientists report. Within minutes, biochemical changes occur, causing the plant to become more resistant to Botrytis cinerea, the fungus that causes grey mould. 

Forget talking to plants to help them grow, gently rubbing them with your fingers can make them less susceptible to disease, new research suggests.
Credit: © zagandesign / Fotolia

Forget talking to plants to help them grow, gently rubbing them with your fingers can make them less susceptible to disease, a paper in the open access journal BMC Plant Biology reveals.

Gently rubbing the leaves of thale cress plants (Arabidsopsis thaliana) between thumb and forefinger activates an innate defense mechanism, Floriane L'Haridon and colleagues report. Within minutes, biochemical changes occur, causing the plant to become more resistant to Botrytis cinerea, the fungus that causes grey mould.

Rubbing the leaves is a form of mechanical stress. Plants frequently have to deal with mechanical stress, be it caused by rain, wind, animals or even other plants. Trees growing on windy shorelines, for example, sometimes respond by developing shorter, thicker trunks.

But plants also respond to more delicate forms of mechanical stress, such as touch. Some responses are obvious -- the snapping shut of a Venus fly trap, the folding leaflets of a touched touch-me-not plant (Mimosa pudica) -- whilst some are more discrete. Plants also launch an arsenal of 'invisible' responses to mechanical stress, including changes at the molecular and biochemical level.

Rubbing the thale cress leaves triggered a host of internal changes. Genes related to mechanical stress were activated. Levels of reactive oxygen species increased. And the protective outer layer of the leaf became more permeable, presumably to aid the escape of various biologically active molecules that were detected and which are thought to contribute to the observed immune response. This data could also suggest that the mechanical stress is perceived by mechano-sensors that subsequently initiate resistance.

Similar effects occur when plants are physically wounded. Team members previously showed how physically wounding thale cress increases levels of reactive oxygen species, also triggering a strong, transient immunity to the grey mould fungus. Here they show basically the same thing, but in response to an extremely gentle form of wounding -- mechanical stimulation by touch -- that unlike wounding, leaves cells intact.

Wounding and rubbing exemplify how plants can react to a situation that in principle could cause them to become more vulnerable. Instead, they react to touch by deploying a carefully-orchestrated defence response, an evolutionary skill that that presumably boosts survival.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central Limited. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lehcen Benikhlef, Floriane L’Haridon, Eliane Abou-Mansour, Mario Serrano, Matteo Binda, Alex Costa, Silke Lehmann and Jean-Pierre Mιtraux. Perception of soft mechanical stress in Arabidopsis leaves activates disease resistance. BMC Plant Biology, 2013 [link]

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central Limited. "Get touchy feely with plants: Gently rubbing them with your fingers can make them less susceptible to disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130912203053.htm>.
BioMed Central Limited. (2013, September 12). Get touchy feely with plants: Gently rubbing them with your fingers can make them less susceptible to disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130912203053.htm
BioMed Central Limited. "Get touchy feely with plants: Gently rubbing them with your fingers can make them less susceptible to disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130912203053.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins