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Plants can tell when they’re being eaten, and they don’t like it

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Plants can sense when a predator is eating their leaves, and they take steps to stop it.

Researchers at the University of Missouri conducted a study using thale cress, which is closely related to broccoli, kale, mustard greens, and cabbage, reported Modern Farmer.

The plant, which is known by the Latin name Arabidopsis, is the most popular plant for experimentation because it was the first to have its genome sequenced.

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The scientists made an audio version of the vibrations made by caterpillars when they eat leaves, based on their theory that plants can feel or hear these.

They also created vibrations that resembled other natural phenomena, such as wind or insect songs, that plants might sense.

The study found that when plants felt (or heard) the caterpillar-like vibrations, they sent out mustard oils — which are mildly toxic when ingested — through their leaves to chase away the predators, although the response takes hours or even days.

The plants did not react when they sensed the other vibrations.

“There are maybe 400,000 species of plants, and what are the chances that we just happened to pick the one species that has this ability to detect vibration?” said Rex Cocroft, a Missouri researcher. “The ability for plants to pick up sound is pretty clear, but the advance from this study is unique.”

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The researchers haven’t determined exactly how plants distinguish the vibrations, but their cells have proteins called mechanoreceptors embedded in the membranes that send signals when moved in certain ways, which may sense the vibrations.

Additional studies are planned to determine how perception and detection works in plants.

Scientists cautioned that more research must be done to determine what the findings mean, but the study opens some fascinating possibilities – such as using sound waves to encourage crop growth or production of pest-resistant oils.

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Several large Christian church congregations in Tennessee reclose their doors after coronavirus outbreaks

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Outbreaks of coronavirus are forcing several large Church of God congregations in Cleveland, Tennessee, to close their doors again, WRCBtv reports.

"In a series of posts in the past week on the Westmore Church of God Facebook page, lead pastor of the church Kelvin Page reported one, then five and then at least 12 cases of COVID-19 in his congregation," the report states. "In the days since, people connected to the church said the outbreak is two or three times that number."

Read the full report over at WRCBtv.

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GOP governor orders most Texans to wear masks as coronavirus spikes in the Lone Star State

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Gov. Greg Abbott issued a nearly statewide mask mandate Thursday as Texas scrambles to get its coronavirus surge under control.

The order requires "all Texans to wear a face covering over the nose and mouth in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions," according to Abbott's office.

Abbott's order is effective as of 12:01 p.m. Friday.

Abbott had previously resisted calls for such a statewide requirement but allowed local governments to require businesses to mandate masks.

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Black reporter calls out white police union chief for ‘dangerous and false statement’ about Florida protest

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News4Jax reporter Lena Pringle covered the peaceful Black Lives Mater protests in downtown Jacksonville, Florida on Thursday, only to be attacked for being there by a white police union chief.

"The Kemetic Empire, other activist organizations, and family members of those killed by police are demonstrating on the steps of JSO in downtown Jacksonville. Listen in to find out what concerns and changes they want to see from JSO," Pringle typed, posting a video of the demonstration that displayed black body bags to signify the lives taken by police. The comments exploded on Pringle's feed with racism and hate.

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