Strawberries can feel and remember stress, official Swiss study reveals

Strawberries can feel and remember stress, official Swiss study reveals

While it may not involve traditional stress, like managing burnout at work or coping with the weight of global events, an official study by the Swiss government has confirmed that strawberries can feel quite stressed out too. The study by Agroscope, the research arm of the Federal Office for Agriculture, found that not only can strawberries feel stress, they remember stressful events.

Swiss government study reveals strawberries can get quite stressed out

According to an official press release, Agroscope found that “heat and other stress situations influence the DNA” of woodland strawberries. Stressful experiences are “remembered” by the fruit and can help “forearm” the plant, should the stressful situation ever happen again.

The study's authors said that, with consistent heatwaves and climate change in Switzerland, plants experience highly stressful situations more frequently. Drought, heat, intense rain, cold and other types of weather can “negatively impact many plants, including some of our crops,” they noted.

Stressful events influence strawberry DNA

To create the report, Agroscope exposed strawberry plants to various stressful situations. They found that “all of the tested stressors, but heat stress in particular, led to epigenetic changes in the DNA of woodland strawberry,” meaning that the fruit can technically “remember” stressful events.

The next step in the report, according to Agroscope, is to find out how long plants “remember” their stress and whether strawberries equip future generations with the modified DNA and relative stoicism of their ancestors. The government hopes that in the future, they will be able to artificially change the DNA of other crucial crops, so that they can be as resilient as the strawberries.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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