Science discovery: Venus Flytrap bug chomping creates a magnetic field

International News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – The Venus Flytrap can stoke your curiosity or haunt your dreams, but either way, you generally have to stare when one of the carnivorous plants chomps down on a bug.

The hungry plant grabs prey using its highly specialized leaves as a trap. The leaves close on the target-driven by an electrical signal called an “action potential trigger.”

Scientists in Berlin have made a discovery about the lethal (to bugs) plant. When those jaws close, it makes a small magnetic field.

In a press release from the scientists, “We have been able to demonstrate that action potentials in a multicellular plant system produce measurable magnetic fields, something that had never been confirmed before,” said Anne Fabricant, a doctoral candidate in Professor Dmitry Budker’s research group at JGU and HIM.

Plants, in general, are fun for a lot of people. Besides feeding us, they make things look better, smell better, and provide shelter for many nature’s creatures. We don’t necessarily think of them taking a snack break!

But some plants need to eat and when they do it gets very interesting.

Research published at Scientific Reports says when the Venus Flytrap closes a very tiny magnetic field is generated.

It could be a type of plant-level thinking that works like ours. According to the research document, “It is well-known that in the human brain, voltage changes in certain regions result from the concerted electrical activity which, in the form of action potentials (APs), travels within nerve-cell arrays.”

In a statement, “You could say the investigation is a little like performing an MRI scan in humans,” said physicist Anne Fabricant. “The problem is that the magnetic signals in plants are very weak, which explains why it was extremely difficult to measure them with the help of older technologies.”

The research continues explaining that in the plant kingdom there is a degree of electrical signaling, and it’s involved in the reception and transduction of light, temperature, touch, wounding, and chemicals.

The research also says that even though human and animal magneto physiology is a well-developed field of research very little of the same type of work has been conducted in the plant kingdom.

In order to measure the magnetic field the scientists used a device called an atomic magnetometer. Fabricant said, “The signal magnitude recorded is similar to what is observed during surface measurements of nerve impulses in animals.”

Why is could the discovery be important? If the signals of other plant species can be measured, in the future it could help with feeding us. Farmers may be able to get data from this type of non-invasive technology by finding problems via the magnetic responses without have to damage the plants using electrodes.

It may help keep the food we eat, healthier.

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