Scott T. Meissner
smeissne at PRAIRIENET.ORG
Thu Jul 24 14:38:41 EST 1997
As far as plant senses goes a good book as a resource
The Action Plant, by Paul Simons, 1992, Blackwell Press,
This book has a good literature cited section and covers a wide
range of plant sensing/response mechanisms (to the extent that
the literature allowed five years ago).
One reference Simons cites, and I have read, relates
to plant's response to sound:
Weinberger P., M. Measures 1968
Canadian Journal of Botany, 46: 1151-1158
"The effect of two audible sound frequencies on
the germination and growth of spring and winter
This is the only paper I have found, in the research literature,
that convinces me that sound can influence plant growth.
Simon describes somewhat in his book the controversy
generated by Clive Backster and his suggestion of a "primary
perception" in plants in response to wounding of other life
forms. Simon points out the problems with Backster's work, and
cites an article by Lewis, Horowitz, and Gasteiger:
Horowitz A.L., D.C. Lewis, E.L. Gasteiger 1975.
Science 189: 478-480
"Plant 'primary perception': Electrophysiological
unresponsiveness to brine shrimp killing"
I talked one evening with Dr. Gasteiger who described the
difficulty he experienced in getting this work published. This
work refuted directly some of the rather wild suggestions made
by Backster, and this area was so controversial that many
plant physiologists were scared off of work on plant senses.
This in spite of the fact that plant senses were readily
accepted and studied in the 1800's. Asa Gray published
a very nice primer for school children:
Gray A. 1873. Botany for young people. Vol II.
How plants behave. 46 pgs.
But the net effect of Backster's work, and books like the
Secret Lives of Plants, was to inhibit research rather
than promote it. Lately there are many more people working
on plant sensing, mostly as signal-transduction systems.
Good luck with the story.
Scott T. Meissner, Division of Science and Mathematics
McKendree College, 701 College Rd, Lebanon, IL 62254
Tel: (618) 537-6934
E-mail: smeissne at a1.mckendree.edu
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