The Earth is filled with all sorts of unique and interesting plants. One of the most intriguing plants is the carnivorous Venus flytrap, able to lure insects inside their “mouths” with fragrant nectar only to clamp down on the fly and eat it. Researchers have discovered something very interesting and unexpected about the Venus flytrap.
The unexpected discovery is that the plants generate a measurable magnetic field when they snap down on their prey. Researchers say that the magnetic field generated by the plant is more than a million times weaker than that of the Earth. They believe that the magnetic field is likely a byproduct of the electrical energy flowing through the plant’s leaves.
Scientists don’t believe that the magnetic field serves a function for the plant. Despite likely having no function within the plant, this is one of the first plants ever to have a magnetic field detected. Researchers say wherever there is electrical activity. There should also be magnetic activity. The laws of electromagnetism dictate that anything with an electrical current will generate a magnetic field, including humans, animals, and plants.
Significant research has been focused on studying the magnetic field generated by humans and animals, but not so much in plants. Researchers on the project used tiny glass sensors called atomic magnetometers containing a vapor of atoms sensitive to magnetic fields. With the sensors in place, the scientists triggered electrical energy in the form of an action potential that flowed through the Venus flytrap.
The researchers stimulated the plant using heat and found that when stimulated, the Venus flytrap created a magnetic field with a strength of up to 0.5 picotesla. They say that’s a similar level that’s generated nerve impulses in animals. Magnetic fields have only been detected into other plants prior to this study, including a single-cell algae and bean plant. However, both of those magnetic fields were measured by much more complicated methods requiring hardware to be cooled at extremely low temperatures.