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Can Plants Talk?

This week we hack the secret plant communication network “The Wood Wide Web”. And, digging deeper we discover their many extraordinary senses.

David in Bogota might have raised a few eyebrows in the CrowdScience office with his questions – can plants talk? And can they hear us talking to them? But actually scientists now know that plants do have the ability to communicate with the world around them to a much greater extent than previously thought. Some scientists even talk about plants being able to “hear” a hungry caterpillar or the sound of running water, while others argue that we should not anthropomorphise plants.

One underground communication network, affectionately dubbed the Wood Wide Web by scientists, is made of fungi that grow off the roots of plants. The network lets plants forge alliances, friendships and business partners.

But as we learn nothing is free in nature. In return for their haulage services, the fungi which make up the network siphons off some of the sugar produced during photosynthesis by the plants. Presenter Anand Jagatia goes foraging for answers in the woods together with fungal ecologists.

Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk

Presenter: Anand Jagatia
Producer: Louisa Field

(Image: Misty path running through woodland. Credit: Getty Images)

Available now

27 minutes

Broadcasts

  • Fri 23 Jun 2017 19:32GMT
  • Sat 24 Jun 2017 22:32GMT
  • Sat 24 Jun 2017 23:32GMT
  • Mon 26 Jun 2017 02:32GMT
  • Mon 26 Jun 2017 04:32GMT
  • Mon 26 Jun 2017 06:32GMT
  • Mon 26 Jun 2017 13:32GMT

Send us your question

Send us your question

Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk

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