Sounds emitted by plants under stress are airborne and informative

Cell. 2023 Mar 30;186(7):1328-1336.e10. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2023.03.009.


Stressed plants show altered phenotypes, including changes in color, smell, and shape. Yet, airborne sounds emitted by stressed plants have not been investigated before. Here we show that stressed plants emit airborne sounds that can be recorded from a distance and classified. We recorded ultrasonic sounds emitted by tomato and tobacco plants inside an acoustic chamber, and in a greenhouse, while monitoring the plant's physiological parameters. We developed machine learning models that succeeded in identifying the condition of the plants, including dehydration level and injury, based solely on the emitted sounds. These informative sounds may also be detectable by other organisms. This work opens avenues for understanding plants and their interactions with the environment and may have significant impact on agriculture.

Keywords: airborne sound; artificial intelligence; drought stress; machine learning; phytoacoustics; plant bioacoustics; plant communication; plant remote monitoring; signaling; stress responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Plants*
  • Sound*
  • Stress, Physiological

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.jwstqjqf7