Who would think that? They are plants that at first glance show no reaction. However, there are tomatoes that send electrical signals. It is a way of alerting the rest of the facility. It warns you that they are … being attacked by caterpillars. This is shown by a recent study. And these results open up opportunities for pest control.
Scientists from Brazil carried out the tests. They placed tomato plants in a Faraday cage with electrodes. They were on the ends of the branches that connect the fruit to the plant. Then they measured the electrical responses. It was done before, during and after the caterpillars infested the fruit Helicoverpa armigera for 24 hours. Machine learning identifies patterns in the signals.
The results showed a clear difference between the signals before and after the attack. “We found that fruits can share important information. For example, caterpillar attacks. This is a serious problem for a plant. It informs the rest of the plant that can prepare for the same attack. Says director of studies Dr. Gabriela Niemeyer Reissig. He works at the Federal University of Pelotas (Brazil).
Plant on alert
They measured the biochemical reactions in other parts of the plant. What did you discover? The defense was activated even in parts far from track damage.
Tomatoes sending electrical signals may not be an isolated case. Scientists will test other plants. This holds great potential for insect control in agriculture.
“We want to understand how the plant interacts with its fruits. And “manipulate” this communication in order to improve the quality of the fruit. Also its resistance to pests and its shelf life after harvest, ”explains Reissig. The research was published in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems.