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植物也能说悄悄话吗 – 译学馆
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植物也能说悄悄话吗

Can plants talk to each other? - Richard Karban

植物也能相互交流吗
Can plants talk to each other?
看上去似乎不可能
It certainly doesn’t seem that way.
植物没有动物那样复杂的感觉器官和神经系统
Plants don’t have complex sensory or nervous systems like animals do,
就这么懒洋洋的
and they look pretty passive,
晒晒太阳
basking in the sun,
凭本能接受着阳光和水
and responding instinctively to inputs like light and water.
然而植物的确可以相互交流 这不是天方夜谭
But odd as it sounds, plants can communicate with each other.
像动物一样 植物也能对周围环境
Just like animals, plants produce all kinds of chemical signals
产生各种各样的化学信号
in response to their environments,
它们可以共享这些信号
and they can share those signals with each other,
特别是在受到攻击的时候
especially when they’re under attack.
这些信号通过两种方式传播
These signals take two routes:
一种是空气【air 空气 soil土壤】
through the air,
另一种是土壤【air 空气 soil土壤】
and through the soil.
当植物叶片受到破坏
When plant leaves get damaged,
不管是饿坏的虫虫 还是进击的割草机
whether by hungry insects or an invading lawn mower,
它们会产生一种含挥发性化学物质的气流
they release plumes of volatile chemicals.
就是割完草 我们闻到的青草味
They’re what’s responsible for the smell of freshly cut grass.
某些植物 比如灌木 利马豆【利马豆又称哈巴豆 洋扁豆 最早种植于墨西哥秘鲁一带】
【sagebrush 灌木 Lima beans 利马豆】
Certain kinds of plants, like sagebrush and lima beans,
就会从空气中获取信号【sagebrush 灌木 Lima beans 利马豆】
are able to pick up on those airborne messages
从而相应地调整自身内部的化学物质
and adjust their own internal chemistry accordingly.
在一次实验中 灌木叶片或是被虫咬了
In one experiment, sagebrush leaves were deliberately damaged by insects
或是被科学家修剪了
or scissor-wielding scientists.
在实验的整个夏季里
Throughout the summer,
这株灌木上的其他叶片
other branches on the same sagebrush plant
很少受到昆虫的啃咬
got eaten less by insects wandering through,
周围的灌木也是如此
and so did branches on neighboring bushes,
这就说明 它们加强了对昆虫的防御能力
suggesting that they had beefed up their anti-insect defenses.
就算只是把受损植物周围的空气 转移到另一株植物那里
Even moving the air from above a clipped plant to another one
第二株植物的抵抗能力也增强了
made the second plant more insect-resistant.
空气中的信号提升了幼苗存活的能力
These airborne cues increase the likelihood of seedling survival,
使成年植物生长出更多枝杈和花朵
and made adult plants produce more new branches and flowers.
但是为什么植物会给周围的同伴预警
But why would a plant warn its neighbors of danger,
尤其是它们还要相互争夺资源
especially if they’re competing for resources?
好吧 这可能是自卫机制的一种意外产物
Well, it might be an accidental consequence of a self-defense mechanism.
植物不能像我们通过身体轻易地传递信息
Plants can’t move information through their bodies as easily as we can,
尤其是缺乏水资源的情况下
especially if water is scarce.
所以植物是依靠空气中的化学物质
So plants may rely on those airborne chemicals
来相互传递信息的
to get messages from one part of a plant to another.
相邻的植物能偷取这些信息
Nearby plants can eavesdrop on those signals,
好比你无意中听到了邻居打喷嚏 自己就会囤点感冒药
like overhearing your neighbor sneeze and stocking up on cold medicine.
不同的植物传递信息时产生的化学物质是不同的
Different plants convey those warnings using different chemical languages.
同一片草地上不同的灌木
Individual sagebrush plants in the same meadow
释放的预警信号也有着轻微的不同
release slightly different sets of alarm chemicals.
这些混搭式的信号影响了交流的效率
The makeup of that cocktail influences the effectiveness of communication.
植物释放的化学物质成分越相近
The more similar two plants’ chemical fingerprints are,
交流频率越高
the more fluently they can communicate.
植物对自身叶片产生的信号最为敏感
A plant will be most sensitive to the cues emitted by its own leaves.
不过 由于化学物质是可以遗传的
But because these chemicals seem to be inherited,
就像人类的血型
like human blood types,
灌木植物与自己亲戚们的交流
sagebrush plants communicate more effectively
比和陌生植物交流要更有效
with relatives than with strangers.
但有些时候 其他物种也能受益
But sometimes, even other species can benefit.
番茄和烟草植物可以破译灌木的预警信号
Tomato and tobacco plants can both decipher sagebrush warning signals.
植物不光是依赖空气中的信号【air 空气】
Plants don’t have to rely solely on those airborne broadcasts.
信号也可以通过土壤传播【air空气 soil 土壤】
Signals can travel below the soil surface, too.
大多数植物与真菌共生
Most plants have a symbiotic relationship with fungi,
真菌寄生在植物根系中 帮助植物吸收水分和营养
which colonize the plants’ roots and help them absorb water and nutrients.
真菌丝组成的广大网络
These fungal filaments form extensive networks
可以将分散的植物联系在一起
that can connect separate plants,
形成超级地下路网 来传递化学信号
creating an underground super highway for chemical messages.
番茄遇到疫病时
When a tomato plant responds to blight
会产生抗体基因和酶
by acitvating disease-fighting genes and enzymes,
免疫系统中便会生成这类信号分子
signaling molecules produced by its immune system
传递到健康的植物中
can travel to a healthy plant
提醒它们也要开启免疫系统
and prompt it to turn on its immune system, too.
这样先进的预警机制大大增加了植物的生存机会
These advance warnings increase the plants chance of survival.
豆类植物也会从真菌路网中
Bean plants also eavesdrop on each other’s health
偷听到其他植物的健康信息
through these fungal conduits.
一株植物中的一个蚜虫
An aphid investation in one plant
就能激活相邻植物防御物质 提升预防蚜虫的能力
triggers its neighbor to ramp up production of compounds that repel aphids
还能招来克星黄蜂
and attract aphid-eating wasps.
如果把这种交流当做信息交换
If you think of communication as an exchange of information,
那么植物可算是话唠了
then plants seem to be active communicators.
他们传递信号 接受信息 完成相应调整
They’re sending, receiving, and responding to signals
却不做出任何声响
without making a sound,
没有大脑 鼻子 也没有字典 网络
and without brains, noses, dictionaries, or the Internet.
如果我们能学会它们的交流模式
And if we can learn to speak to them on their terms,
我们能获得强有力的方法来保护玉米 保护其他珍贵物种
we may gain a powerful new tool to protect crops and other valuable species.
这会让我们去想自己是不是错过了什么
It all makes you wonder what else are we missing?

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