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Touch experiment with sunflower plants
updated by Laura Cinti - 13 Dec 2010


Two sunflower seedlings were positioned alongside each other. The left plant was the control and the other was subjected to daily (innocuous) touching for approximately 2-3 seconds over a one month period. Visible differences in height (approximately 1-2cm) were discernible after two weeks.

After a month, the control's stem appeared elongated with a fully formed additional (second) node of sprouting leaves. In contrast, the touched plant appeared shorter in length and new leaves were sprouting from original node, thus making it look leafier. When touching had ceased, the control flowered, while in the other (touched) plant, flowering was delayed and it grew significantly taller.

The touch gestures affected the shoot and timing of flowering. Though differences were observed, it was through daily monitoring and recording that an awareness of these changes became apparent. This study highlighted the time disparities and the difficulties of perceiving the touch-induced morphological growth adaptations for the casual observer.

Sunflower seeds and 3.6cm rockwool cubes (Gorden Cutting Seed Cubes), 23 June 2007.
Sunflower seeds and 3.6cm rockwool cubes (Gorden Cutting Seed Cubes), 23 June 2007.

Sunflower seedlings placed in Gordan's Transplanting Cubes, 14 July 2007.
Sunflower seedlings placed in Gordan's Transplanting Cubes, 14 July 2007.


 Seedlings were placed in propagator, 14 July 2007.
 Seedlings were placed in propagator, 14 July 2007.
 Seedlings were placed in propagator, 14 July 2007.
 Seedlings were placed in propagator, 14 July 2007.
Seedlings were placed in propagator, 14 July 2007.

 Plant on left is the control and administering touch stimulation on right plant, 14 July 2007.
 Plant on left is the control and administering touch stimulation on right plant, 14 July 2007.
Plant on left is the control and administering touch stimulation on right plant, 14 July 2007.

 Height difference (approximately 1-2cm) between control and touched plant, 24 July - 3 August 2007.
Height difference (approximately 1-2cm) between control and touched plant, 24 July - 3 August 2007.


 Note reduced hairs on touched plant (right), 16 August 2007
Note reduced hairs on touched plant (right), 16 August 2007.

 Administering touch simulation on right plant, 01 August 2007.
Administering touch simulation on right plant, 1 August 2007.

 Plant on left is the control and administering touch stimulation on right plant, 14 July 2007.
 Plant on left is the control and administering touch stimulation on right plant, 14 July 2007.
Administering touch simulation on right plant, 16 August 2007.

 Height difference (approximately 2cm) between control and touched plant,  22 August 2007.
Height difference (approximately 2cm) between control and touched plant, 22 August 2007.

 Note early flowering on control (left) and reduced height in comparison to the plant on right (touched) that was subjected to one month of touch simulations between July-August, showing later flowering and elongated stem, 9 October 2007.
Note early flowering on control (left) and reduced height in comparison to the plant on right (touched) that was subjected to one month of touch simulations between July-August, showing later flowering and elongated stem, 9 October 2007.

Other References:
Overview
Year
2007
Status
completed
Keyword(s)
touch, plants
Group(s)
Article(s)
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