From PBS Nature, watch as researchers Consuelo M. De Moraes and Mark Mesker conduct a series of experiments to find out if the dodder vine (Cuscuta pentagona), a parasitic plant that depends on a host plant to provide sustenance, can “sniff” out its plant prey.
“Plants obviously don’t have olfactory nerves that connect to a brain that interpret signals…but [some plants] do respond to pheromones, just as we do. Plants detect a volatile chemical in the air, and they convert this signal (albeit nerve-free) into a physiological response. Surely this could be considered olfaction.”
Above, botanist Daniel Chamovitz explains in this 2012 Krulwich Wonders article. Plus, there’s more from the researchers at NPR:
“It’s really amazing to watch this plant having this almost animal-like behavior,” [De Moraes] says. “It’s really very sophisticated and surprising.”
The study showed dodder also prefers certain odors. Given a choice of tomato or wheat, the dodder picks the tomato. Wheat may give off a chemical that repels the vines, which could mean good news for farmers.
“The fact that there are these repellant compounds suggest that you might be able to create a repellant or deterrent effect that would allow you to protect a crop against infestation,” says Mark Mesker.
Strong odors, more tomatoes, and more time lapse plant videos await, including Farm foods grow in time lapse, From seed to sapling – Time lapse of an oak tree, and What makes that fresh rain smell?
Bonus: How many smells can you identify?
This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.
Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.