As I am preparing a course on Digital Transformation I am searching the web for advances in sensing technologies and, of course, there is always quite a bit to learn from Nature.
I bumped onto an article reporting the latest discovery on how plants sense the world. I guess we have always known that plants can sense the light, some seek the shade, others grow searching the sunlight. Sunflowers are a clear example, moving their flower to track the Sun. So in a way, they are able to see where the light comes from.
Similarly we have noticed that a plant grow roots in specific direction searching for water, it tastes the soil, and we know of plants that are able to catch flies as they land on their leaves, proving they have a sense of touch.
Scientists have been able to discover that plants may also smell, recognise relatives and even hear sound.
In the article published on Science Daily a team of researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham report on the discovery of the physiological processes involved in plants sensing.
The team has identified the role of some 200 proteins used by plants to sense their environment.
They have shown how the membrane of a plant cell can detect and respond to the presence of microbe and activate a response.
This new understanding on how plants sense is important since it may open the way to create more resistant crops. It is an area where we can expect significant progress in the next decades, as precision agriculture and digital farming will take the stage.