There is a wish for rest and a privacy? The best place for flight from the noisy city — backwoods. But stop! The silence in a thicket only the cover masking secret life of plants which behind your back discuss how him to protect the territory and to frighten off aggressors
"What do you cost as a tree?", "At me hands are felt nothing: have absolutely stiffened", "it is easier on turns — not firewood you carry" — in language many expressions emphasizing that plants can't actively react to the world around, and are capable to accept his burdens only passively. And it with an ulterior motive: representatives of flora have perfectly learned to hide the true essence, pretending to be harmless and indifferent. Actually lovely florets, bushes or trees — the real harmonious gang which seeks to occupy all available territory. Members of gang watch closely the events, communicate and coordinate the actions, instantly reacting to any changes.
The American ecologist David Roudz studying how caterpillars of kokonopryad eat around leaves of willows was the first who has suspected that plants hide something. In 1979 Roudz has as usual put insects on one plant, and after a while has transferred them to the next saplings in pots nearby. A part of plants faced caterpillars earlier, others with them were unfamiliar. Usually, if on a tree parasites are got, it changes metabolism and lets grow new leaves firmer and fibrous — so it is more difficult to insect to damage them. But, to Roudz's surprise, caterpillars badly ate around leaves of all willows — as those which have already suffered from parasites, and "beginners". The scientist has assumed that the damaged sapling has emitted some substances which have warned neighbors about danger, having allowed them to be prepared for possible attack in advance and to make leaves firmer.
In 1983 the British researchers Ian Baldwin and Jack Schultz have checked Roudz's hypothesis, having made more careful experiment. They didn't begin to contact caterpillars, and have just peeled leaves from a young maple. Then scientists have connected the camera where the unfortunate sapling grew, with the camera where the intact trees lived. And maples which have forced to breathe "someone else's" air have begun to make firmer leaves! Results of a research of Baldwin and Schultz have been published in one of the most prestigious magazines, Science, however the scientific community has apprehended them in bayonets. The botanists who have got used to consider plants passive and inert refused to believe that those are able to react very vividly to the events around moreover and to report about it to companions. Besides scientists had claims to a technique of statement of experiences.
And nevertheless many researchers have become interested in the idea that plants are capable to communicate with each other. For the next 20 years several tens of qualitative experiments have been delivered, and by the beginning of the 2000th it became obvious: trees and flowers live in the mode of continuous "meeting", in real time discussing with each other as it is better to resist to enemies and to take away them from the territory.
To wave with a cudgel
When plants understand that by own efforts not to cope with aggressors, they call "killer" — a predatory insect. Scientists have tracked as it helps green bandits, having made "an investigative experiment" and having infected beans with a pea plant louse. The struck plants emitted not only the substances warning neighbors but also the chemicals attracting wasps of Aphidius ervi who lay eggs in bodies of plant louses. The structure of the cocktails alluring murderers is unknown. Without understanding, how exactly plants call to the aid severe companions, people sometimes destroy this communication channel. In 2011 it has become clear that hybrid grades of corn aren't able to send "letters" to friendly insects and suffer from parasites much more wild fellows.
One of the main ways of transfer of "encryptions" — by air. Plants synthesize huge amount of various volatile compounds. Purpose of most of them is still unknown to scientists though people have learned to use vegetable "chemistry" for themselves, creating on its basis drugs, cosmetics and spirits. Thanks to attentive "investigators" like Roudz, Baldwin and Schultz it became clear that at least a part of the substances synthesized by trees and herbs are the messages about danger intended to neighbors. And, as in 2006 the biologists from the University of California in San Diego who are let out by plants air signals have shown "work" at distance up to 60 cm.
Today we understand sense only of separate vegetable messages. And even this poor knowledge shows, such air "mail" and as deeply it changes metabolism of plants how accurately works. If to put on a bush of a wormwood of plant louses, "victim" begins to allocate метилжасмонат. As soon as the next bush catches the message, the activity of a gene which product doesn't allow insects to acquire otgryzanny leaves normally sharply increases in his cages. To facilitate digestion of difficult food, parasites produce the enzyme splitting vegetable proteins. In leaves of the attacked plants and the neighbors warned by them the protein blocking work of this enzyme begins to be synthesized. As a result of a plant louse and other insects can't receive enough nutrients from leaves.
Scientists so badly decipher vegetable messages not least because most of them consist of a set of components. One of examples of such cocktail — a smell of a new-mown grass. He is pleasant to most of people, and here plants use him as a warning of imminent danger. In 2011 the Japanese researchers on one removed from mix which was emitted by the daisies entering her substances attacked by parasites. And the lack of any of them significantly reduced activity of the genes which are responsible for protection at their neighbors. It is possible to tell that the separate substances making the mix emitted by plants are words, and all cocktail — the offer.
The vegetable gang is cunning and provident. In 2011 researchers from the Benguriona University have planted a row six saplings of peas, having wrapped everyone in a film to exclude exchange of volatiles. Then scientists have added to the soil to one of saplings the substance "extending" water, having simulated a drought. In 15 minutes unfortunate is expected I have closed ustiyets — tiny openings on leaves through which plants emit water and gases. But, to surprise of scientists, an ustyitsa were closed also at the next sprout though he wasn't exposed to dangerous manipulations. An hour later have ceased to evaporate water through leaves all six plants. Though volatiles couldn't be transferred, roots of saplings in pairs adjoined with each other. When scientists have repeated experiment, having removed root interaction, an ustyitsa were closed only at a plant which has appeared "in the desert".
The most surprising that saplings not only have reacted to the warning signal from "victim", but also have extended it further, providing communication at long distances. Moreover, it has become clear that underground Internet is in addition expanded and accelerate … mushrooms. They braid roots of the majority of plants in the wild nature with long threads — hyphas. Friendship of mushrooms and plants is favorable to both parties. Plants transfer to mushrooms the carbohydrates created during photosynthesis, and mushrooms in reply help companions to soak up better from the soil water and mineral substances.
But there is more to come. On the hyphas reaching from one root system for another plants transmit to companions alarm signals. In 2013 the British botanists have shown that neighbors of peas on whom have put a plant louse begin to emit the substances which are frightening off insects, already 24 hours later after infection of the companion. And the message from the victim reached neighbors, even when they have been connected only through hyphas, but not through roots. In recent years there are more and more proofs that mushroom Internet can unite all trees in the wood! For example, in 2009 Canadian geobotany have found out that by means of hyphas each tree contacts in at least about ten neighbors at distance of 30 meters. Not each city can brag of such density of Internet connection.
To be prepared in advance
In 52 hours after scientists have damaged a sapling, amount of the solid substances doing leaves by trudnousvoyaemy has considerably increased in both plants.
The damaged plant has strengthened protection of the leaves and became "inedible", and the sapling which isn't warned about danger was defenseless against aggressors.
Criminals people support members of the gang and at any opportunity try to move away members of other gangs. Green bandits behave in the same way. When young saplings of sea mustard appeared near others plants, they let grow as much as possible branched roots to extend from the soil at most of water and minerals. If neighbors were relatives, roots of all saplings grew moderately branchy. Similarly a favourite object of vegetable experiments — арабидопсис arrives. The flower the touchy person pale lets grow less wide leaves not to shade neighbors if these neighbors — relatives. And here when nearby there is aggressive others plant seeking to take all useful substances, brothers-in-law extend the signals accelerating maturing on underground Internet. But why to plants in general to help each other even if also to relatives, all of them equally compete for resources? This reason for many years prevented scientists to believe that trees or bushes in principle actively communicate. And it is similar, friendship this really compelled. Initially bandits weren't going to help anybody at all, they were just protected. Volatile chemical compounds were necessary to frighten off parasites or to report to one part of a plant that the trouble has come to another — without blood and nervous systems communication in the plant appears not the simplest business. Having learned to perceive own signals, trees and herbs began to catch the messages of neighbors intended for "internal use" at the same time. In other words, plants began to overhear, as well as it is necessary to the real bandits.
Best of all they caught messages from relatives, their chemical composition is most similar to structure of signals of the most overhearing. Reacting to these messages, interceptors increased the chances to survive and leave posterity, so, over time in population became more and more plants able to overhear. But as related plants bear similar genes, interception of each separate tree increased chances of survival not only him, but also nephews, nieces and other indirect relatives. Gradually these genes strongly were fixed, and today related members of one gang behave on the relation to each other as the real altruists.
Moreover, it seems, as sometimes "sign contracts with members of other gangs of a plant". Numerous experiments have revealed that the communities consisting of several species of plants feel better, than monogroups: separate trees in such communities grow more and quicker, and the overall effectiveness of photosynthesis is much higher. In 2015 researchers from the University of British Columbia have found out that in the mixed communities the trees rich with nitrogen, carbon dioxide and other useful substances share them with less successful companions. Scientists don't exclude that mushrooms force to be on friendly terms with unrelated gangs of plants. They have in truce interest: the more actively trees exchange various substances, the more comes the way of mushrooms. But finally researchers only should find out the principles of complex relationship in vegetable gangs. And, maybe, when we at last will learn to decipher messages of trees and flowers, they will tell us something important about the planet.