Sound perception in plants

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2019 Aug:92:134-138. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2019.03.006. Epub 2019 Apr 27.


Can plants perceive sound? And what sounds are they likely to be "listening" to? The environment of plants includes many informative sounds, produced by biotic and abiotic sources. An ability to respond to these sounds could thus have a significant adaptive value for plants. We suggest the term phytoacoustics to describe the emerging field exploring sound emission and sound detection in plants, and review the recent studies published on these topics. We describe evidence of plant responses to sounds, varying from changes in gene expression to changes in pathogen resistance and nectar composition. The main focus of this review is the effect of airborne sounds on living plants. We also review work on sound emissions by plants, and plant morphological adaptations to sound. Finally, we discuss the ecological contexts where response to sound would be most advantageous to plants.

Keywords: Airborne; Communication; Mechanoreceptors; Phytoacoustics; Plant bioacoustics; Signaling; Sound; Sound waves; Spectrum; Vibration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Auditory Perception / genetics*
  • Plants
  • Sound*