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Science illiterate seeks urgent help

Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Thu Jul 24 10:32:27 EST 1997

At 9:27 AM -0400 7/24/97, Allan Batievsky wrote:
>I'm a spanish screenwriter developing a script about a botanist, and
>some serious doubts are haunting me.
>Does anyone have heard about any research being done on the responses of
>plants to sensorial stimuli (like music, colored light, electricity,
>Is there any resource I should consult?
>Hope I'm not too out of subject, and thanks a lot,


I strongly urge you to do the research before
you do much more writing.  As a plant physiologist
I get a lot of questions along the lines of plants
being sensitive to music and so on.  Indeed books
and software seem to foster this idea.  Unfortunately
as far as any true plant physiologist knows, there
is NO EVIDENCE of that kind of sensitivity in plants.

Most growth differences found between music-treated
and control (music-deprived) plants can be attributed
to other uncontrolled factors (light, temperature,
fertilizer, soil, watering, etc.).  There are NO
studies published in reputable journals showing that
plants respond to music or have E. S. P.

On the other hand, plants do respond to different
colors of light.  A good example would be phytochrome
studies, say in seed germination of lettuce.  These
seeds germinate in response to red or white light, but
equal photon flux densitites of far-red (730 nm) light
strongly inhibit germination!  Similarly, even Darwin
knew that grass seedlings grow toward light from one
side.  He did some seminal studies on the power of movement
in plants.  Recently Frits Went (another botanist) died.
His studies picked up where Darwin's (and others) left off.
He found out that a growth substance (hormone) called
indole-3-acetic acid is transported preferentially down
the shaded side of the grass seedling accelerating growth
on the shaded side.  Winslow Briggs and Robert Bandurski
would be two living scientists who have followed up on
these studies.  An interview with either of them would
be VERY interesting.  Briggs could tell you more on the
electrical aspects too I think.  One of the more fascinating
aspects was a report of light-stimulated charges on roots
that caused them to be attracted to an electrode in an
aqueous medium.


Ross Koning                 | koning at ecsu.ctstateu.edu
Biology Department          | http://koning.ecsu.ctstateu.edu/
Eastern CT State University | phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT 06226 USA   | fax: 860-465-4479

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