Although plant neurobiology is not a new field new material is always a fascinating topic. In this case, Carolin Seele (Leipzig University) and Stefan Meldau (Max-Planck-Institute for Chemical Ecology) have discovered that young beech trees (Fagus sylvatica) and maple trees (Acer pseudoplatanus), can protect themselves from roe deer that love to eat their new shoots and buds.
This amazing discovery found that the trees can determine whether the shoot and/or bud was eaten by roe deer or damaged by other circumstances. The trees are able to detect roe deer saliva which triggers an increase in its production of salicylic acid. This hormone then signals an increase in the production of specific tannins which the deer do not like to eat. Not only that, but the growth hormone is also increased to compensate for the lost bud or shoot. If the damage is by other means, such as a storm, the trees only produce a growth hormone.
Many years ago people found that if they talked to their plants they would grow better. Maybe there was something to this. There are so many wonderful things yet to be discovered about plants. What a fun topic!