If plants could talk, they would definitely say, "Touch me not!"
Researchers from La Trobe University found that plants are highly sensitive
to touch, and repeated touching could significantly affect their growth. The
results are published in The Plant Jounal.
La Trobe researchers, Drs. Jim Whelan and Yan Wang, revealed the results of
their study, which observed the responses of Arabidopsis to various test
touch stimuli. Whelan said that even the slightest touch turns on a major
genetic defense response, which when repeated, slows down plant growth.
"Within 30 minutes of being touched, 10 per cent of the plant's genome is
altered...This involves a huge expenditure of energy which is taken away
from plant growth. If the touching is repeated, then plant growth is reduced
by up to 30 percent," Whelan explained.
Wang further explained that the reason behind the strong reaction of plants
to touch is yet to be revealed, their research findings have led to a deeper
understanding of the genetic defense mechanisms involved particularly in
opening up new approaches to reducing sensitivity and optimizing growth.