Acoustic emissions are frequently used in material sciences and engineering applications for structural health monitoring. It is known that plants also emit acoustic emissions, and their application in plant sciences is rapidly increasing, especially to investigate drought-induced plant stress. Vulnerability to drought-induced cavitation is a key trait of plant water relations, and contains valuable information about how plants may cope with drought stress. There is, however, no consensus in literature about how this is best measured. Here, we discuss detection of acoustic emissions as a measure for drought-induced cavitation. Past research and the current state of the art are reviewed. We also discuss how the acoustic emission technique can help solve some of the main issues regarding quantification of the degree of cavitation, and how it can contribute to our knowledge about plant behavior during drought stress. So far, crossbreeding in the field of material sciences proved very successful, and we therefore recommend continuing in this direction in future research.
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