Plant intelligence.

Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JH, UK.
Naturwissenschaften (Impact Factor: 1.97). 10/2005; 92(9):401-13. DOI: 10.1007/s00114-005-0014-9
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Intelligent behavior is a complex adaptive phenomenon that has evolved to enable organisms to deal with variable environmental circumstances. Maximizing fitness requires skill in foraging for necessary resources (food) in competitive circumstances and is probably the activity in which intelligent behavior is most easily seen. Biologists suggest that intelligence encompasses the characteristics of detailed sensory perception, information processing, learning, memory, choice, optimisation of resource sequestration with minimal outlay, self-recognition, and foresight by predictive modeling. All these properties are concerned with a capacity for problem solving in recurrent and novel situations. Here I review the evidence that individual plant species exhibit all of these intelligent behavioral capabilities but do so through phenotypic plasticity, not movement. Furthermore it is in the competitive foraging for resources that most of these intelligent attributes have been detected. Plants should therefore be regarded as prototypical intelligent organisms, a concept that has considerable consequences for investigations of whole plant communication, computation and signal transduction.

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