A new study has shown that plants have an amazingly complex response to rainfall.
A team of multinational scientists from the University of Western Australia (UWA) and Lund University in Sweden have discovered that plants respond to precipitation with a series of complex chemical signals , which we can compared to panic attacks.
Actual plants also know 'fear' when it rains.
Research by scientists shows that this process involves thousands of genes, hundreds of proteins and many growth hormones are affected in just 10 minutes of water touching leaves. This reaction continues to increase for about 25 minutes.
The team sprayed on Arabidopsis , a small genus of flowering plants belonging to the cruciferous family, with a light shower and observed the chain reaction in the plant coming from a protein called Myc2 . After Myc2 is activated, the plant will increase defenses to protect itself, including delays in flowering and stunting.
As part of their defense, plants also pump out chemicals, specifically a hormone called jasmonic acid , which acts as a warning signal to other leaves and even other plants.
But why is a tree panicking about rain? Although water is the basic ingredient needed for photosynthesis, rain can also carry bacteria, viruses and fungal spores that can harm plants.
According to Professor Harvey Millar, a biologist from UWA, it is possible that rain could actually be the leading cause of disease spread among plants.
We often think that plants are completely passive to the natural world, but it seems that the truth is completely different.