Plant intelligence. Naturwiss

Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JH, UK.
The Science of Nature (Impact Factor: 2.1). 10/2005; 92(9):401-13. DOI: 10.1007/s00114-005-0014-9
Source: PubMed


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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    • "The height growth strategy that characterizes the " tree " life form is seen as an evolutionary response to the competition for light (Grams and Andersen, 2007). The most noticeable response in dense forest stands is massive stem elongation, however, the most general adaptive response of trees limited by the light resource is lateral growth of crowns toward spaces with higher light availability (Muth and Bazzaz, 2002; Trewavas, 2005; Grams and Andersen, 2007). In consequence of this response, crown centroids often do not match the location of their stem bases. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study presents mesoFON, an individual-based mangrove forest dynamics model that advances beyond current models by describing crown plasticity of mangrove trees. The crown plasticity routines take advantage of the fields-of-neighborhood (FON) approach and account for the trunk bending and the differential side branch growth mechanism. Competition for above-/below-ground resources is dealt with separately in this model. Offspring production depends on tree growth and rises with tree ontogeny.
    Ecological Modelling 11/2014; 291:28–41. DOI:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2014.07.014 · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    • "Such adapted reaction norms have been selected and fixed in the genome (Roulin et al. 2011), or are epigenetically induced by the environment (Gorelick 2005). They can also stem from behavioral training, through the memorization of past experiences (Gonz alez-G omez et al. 2011), mimicry (Darst 2006), teaching or transmission of knowledge within a familial or social group (Fogarty et al. 2011), or even through clonal reproduction (Trewavas 2005). Anticipation is progressively established in the course of ontogenesis, more especially when complex locomotory or sensory organs and coordinated nervous and hormonal systems are required (Capell an and Nicieza 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: The present text exposes a theory of the role of disturbances in the assemblage and evolution of species within ecosystems, based principally, but not exclusively, on terrestrial ecosystems. Two groups of organisms, doted of contrasted strategies when faced with environmental disturbances, are presented, based on the classical r-K dichotomy, but enriched with more modern concepts from community and evolutionary ecology. Both groups participate in the assembly of known animal, plant, and microbial communities, but with different requirements about environmental fluctuations. The so-called "civilized" organisms are doted with efficient anticipatory mechanisms, allowing them to optimize from an energetic point of view their performances in a predictable environment (stable or fluctuating cyclically at the scale of life expectancy), and they developed advanced specializations in the course of evolutionary time. On the opposite side, the so-called "barbarians" are weakly efficient in a stable environment because they waste energy for foraging, growth, and reproduction, but they are well adapted to unpredictably changing conditions, in particular during major ecological crises. Both groups of organisms succeed or alternate each other in the course of spontaneous or geared successional processes, as well as in the course of evolution. The balance of "barbarians" against "civilized" strategies within communities is predicted to shift in favor of the first type under present-day anthropic pressure, exemplified among others by climate warming, land use change, pollution, and biological invasions.
    Ecology and Evolution 04/2013; 3(4):1113-1124. DOI:10.1002/ece3.505 · 2.32 Impact Factor
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    • "However, the network structure of clonal plants composed of ramets and spacers may exempt them from requiring a proper complex nervous system. Indeed, any network of interconnected modules (neurons, ramets) seems capable of such processes [26], [50]. Because ramets stay interconnected in space and time, the information about richness at a given point of the clonal network may be shared with other ramets, thus resulting in a potentially adaptive response through the whole plant experience. "
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    ABSTRACT: Clonal plants spreading horizontally and forming a network structure of ramets exhibit complex growth patterns to maximize resource uptake from the environment. They respond to spatial heterogeneity by changing their internode length or branching frequency. Ramets definitively root in the soil but stay interconnected for a varying period of time thus allowing an exchange of spatial and temporal information. We quantified the foraging response of clonal plants depending on the local soil quality sampled by the rooting ramet (i.e. the present information) and the resource variability sampled by the older ramets (i.e. the past information). We demonstrated that two related species, Potentilla reptans and P. anserina, responded similarly to the local quality of their environment by decreasing their internode length in response to nutrient-rich soil. Only P. reptans responded to resource variability by decreasing its internode length. In both species, the experience acquired by older ramets influenced the plastic response of new rooted ramets: the internode length between ramets depended not only on the soil quality locally sampled but also on the soil quality previously sampled by older ramets. We quantified the effect of the information perceived at different time and space on the foraging behavior of clonal plants by showing a non-linear response of the ramet rooting in the soil of a given quality. These data suggest that the decision to grow a stolon or to root a ramet at a given distance from the older ramet results from the integration of the past and present information about the richness and the variability of the environment.
    PLoS ONE 06/2012; 7(6):e38288. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0038288 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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