Tuesday March 19, 2019
Home Science & Technology Beware Vegans...

Beware Vegans! Flowering Plants ‘Hear’ When Eaten and Become Defensive, Says Research

Research Was Conducted by Playing Recordings of a Feeding Caterpillar to Flowering Plants

0
//
Flowering plants
Flowering plants and trees hear when eaten and become defensive to the stimuli (representative image). Pixabay
  • Flowering plants and trees hear when eaten and become defensive to the stimuli is found out in a study
  • The plants were made to hear vibrations of a feeding caterpillar and other was just sounds with same acoustics
  • The plants listening to caterpillar vibrations showed production of mustard oil which made the caterpillar crawl away

June 23, 2017: Plants and animals can be a source of energy for us but when it comes to defense, plants are not behind. In some cultures and communities, people have started choosing a vegan lifestyle as they are against animal slaughter. The viral videos on how animals are treated in slaughterhouses make people take up the vegan lifestyle. Most people think that plants do not have a conscience but research show otherwise.

Research show that plants do react to external stimuli and some research shows that they also communicate through chemical signals. They grow towards light, compete with other plants for water and nutrients and also signal for help when needed.

In recent news about science, a research published in Oecologia which was conducted in University of Missouri suggests that plants can hear when they are being attacked and can also become defensive from the attack. Heidi Appel (senior research scientist in the Division of Plant Sciences) and Rex Crocoft (professor in the Division of Biological Sciences) carried out the research by conducting experiments in which they placed caterpillars on the flowering plants of cabbage and mustard.

ALSO READ: Find out why Hinduism always emphasizes on being a vegetarian

They put up a piece of reflective material and a laser on a leaf to measure its movement as a response from vibrations of feeding caterpillar and then they recorded the sounds of caterpillar feeding and played them to similar plants and on the other hand, they played sounds with similar acoustics but a different source to other plants.

The results showed that when caterpillars fed on both plants, the plant exposed to vibrations of caterpillars produced more mustard oils as it is unpleasant to caterpillars so they crawled away and those who were played sounds with similar acoustics showed no change in chemical response.

Appel and Crocoft said that more future researches would be upon how the vibrations are sensed by the plants and how plants would react to other vibrations to keep the pests away. Crocoft stated, ‘Plants have many ways to detect insect attack, but feeding vibrations are likely the fastest way for distant parts of the plant to perceive the attack and begin to increase their defenses.’

Appel said,’ ‘This research also opens the window of plant behavior a little wider, showing that plants have many of the same responses to outside influences that animals do, even though the responses look different.’

This research was part funded by National Science Foundation and it could prove to be a useful tool in agriculture!

– by Sumit Balodi of NewsGram. Twitter: @sumit_balodi

Next Story

Biotechnology Can Meet The Growing Energy Needs Of Rural India

The Indian economy also has a distinct advantage with respect to its demography that can ensure sustained growth for the sector.

0
biotechnology
Indian biotechnology industry has flourished over the years. As of 2016, India had over a thousand biotechnology start-ups. Pixabay

Over the last two-to-three decades, the major success story of the Indian economy has been the stellar growth of its IT industry. But as the dividends from the sector reach the eventual inflection point, India needs to build similar competencies in other industries to ensure sustained growth and prosperity.

It is not acknowledged as often but the biotechnology industry seemed poised to take over the mantle. In the span of a decade beginning in 2007, the industry has grown exponentially in size from about $2 billion to over $11 billion in terms of revenue. By 2025, it is targeted to touch $100 billion.

The biotechnology industry, however, has been impacting Indian lives long before it grew so much in size. Back in the mid-1960s, advancements in biotechnology drove the Green Revolution, which enhanced farm yields and made the country self-sufficient in food production.

A similar contribution from the sector was witnessed in the White Revolution when India became a milk-surplus nation and improved the nutrition level of its citizens.

biotechnology
However, a few challenges need to be addressed if India is to fuel the growth of its biotechnology industry and achieve its target of making it a $100 billion industry by 2025. Pixabay

More recently, the meteoric growth of the Indian pharmaceutical industry is a result of process innovation that has given the country a cost advantage in the manufacture of drugs.

Further, the growing energy needs of India’s rural areas have been increasingly met by biomass fuel.

These outcomes have been the result of years of concerted efforts by the Indian government to enable the growth of the industry. As early as 1986, Rajiv Gandhi, recognising the potential of biotechnology in the country’s development, set up the Department of Biotechnology, making India one of the first countries in the world to have a government department solely dedicated to biotechnology.

Over the years, the Department of Biotechnology has set up 17 Centres of Excellence at higher education institutions across the country and has supported the establishment of eight biotechnology parks across different cities. The biggest contribution of the department has been in setting up of the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) in 2012, which has successfully supported 316 start-ups in its six years of existence.

Due to these efforts, the Indian biotechnology industry has flourished over the years. As of 2016, India had over a thousand biotechnology start-ups. To put matters in perspective, Australia has a total of 470 biotechnology companies. More than half of these start-ups are involved in healthcare – drugs, medical devices and diagnostics – while about 14 per cent are in agricultural biotechnology and about 18 per cent in biotechnology services.

The Indian economy also has a distinct advantage with respect to its demography that can ensure sustained growth for the sector. More than half the Indian population is below the age of 25. On a global scale, the median age in India (26.5 years) is much below that of China (35.9 years) and the US (37.1 years). An effective utilisation of this demographic advantage will provide India a competitive edge over all other emerging economies in the advancement of biotechnological research and development.

biotechnology
he industry argues that India’s stricter standards for patents discourages innovation and dampens foreign investment. Pixabay

However, a few challenges need to be addressed if India is to fuel the growth of its biotechnology industry and achieve its target of making it a $100 billion industry by 2025. First, India’s research and development expenditure is quite low at 0.67 per cent of GDP, not only compared to mature biotechnology economies such as Japan and the US (which stands at around 3 per cent) but also in comparison to emerging economies like China (which is at around 2 percent).

Second, and more specific to the biotech pharmaceutical sector, there are a few India-specific challenges with the country’s IP regime. There are two main areas of contention for the industry in India’s approach to intellectual property. The first issue lies in Section 3(d) of the Patents (Amendment) Act, 2005, which sets a higher standard for patentability than mandated by TRIPS. The industry argues that India’s stricter standards for patents discourages innovation and dampens foreign investment. The second issue is that of compulsory licensing, which gives the government power to suspend a patent in times of health emergencies. Although India has used this option only once, the industry feels that such regulations keep investors clear of Indian markets.

A third challenge lies in the risk involved in the Valley of Death, that is, the risk of failure in the transition of innovative products and services from discovery to marketisation. Most of the early research funding, often provided by universities or the government, runs out before the marketisation phase, the funding for which is mostly provided by venture capitalists. It becomes difficult to attract further capital between these two stages because a developing technology may seem promising, but it is often too early to validate its commercial potential. This gap has a huge impact in commercialisation of innovative ideas.

Also Read: Portable Power: 2019’s 10 Best Portable Generators for Camping

Thus, the Indian government needs to act on these challenges facing the biotechnology sector. An increase in investment towards research and development and building human capital is the most crucial point of action. These initiatives have shifted growth trajectories of countries like China away from India. As for the challenging IP regime, the government needs to come together with the biopharma industry and chalk out a middle ground that recognises the value of innovation and does not hurt its investment attractiveness. Finally, for the Valley of Death concerns, the government can build a mechanism where funding can be provided for select innovative ideas based on their national importance. Only such action-oriented steps can make biotechnology the next success story of the Indian economy. (IANS)