Article

Plant intelligence.

Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JH, UK.
Naturwissenschaften (Impact Factor: 2.14). 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.

1 Bookmark
 · 
141 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In the course of plant evolution, there is an obvious trend toward an increased complexity of plant bodies, as well as an increased sophistication of plant behavior and communication. Phenotypic plasticity of plants is based on the polar auxin transport machinery that is directly linked with plant sensory systems impinging on plant behavior and adaptive responses. Similar to the emergence and evolution of eukaryotic cells, evolution of land plants was also shaped and driven by infective and symbiotic microorganisms. These microorganisms are the driving force behind the evolution of plant synapses and other neuronal aspects of higher plants; this is especially pronounced in the root apices. Plant synapses allow synaptic cell-cell communication and coordination in plants, as well as sensory-motor integration in root apices searching for water and mineral nutrition. These neuronal aspects of higher plants are closely linked with their unique ability to adapt to environmental changes.
    Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 01/2013; 3:44.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    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. · 1.18 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Behaviour is traditionally attributed to animals only. Recently, evidence for plant behaviour is accumulating, mostly from plant physiological studies. Here, we provide ecological evidence for complex plant behaviour in the form of seed abortion decisions conditional on internal and external cues. We analysed seed abortion patterns of barberry plants exposed to seed parasitism and different environmental conditions. Without abortion, parasite infestation of seeds can lead to loss of all seeds in a fruit. We statistically tested a series of null-models with Monte-Carlo simulations to establish selectivity and adaptiveness of the observed seed abortion patterns. Seed abortion was more frequent in parasitized fruits and fruits from dry habitats. Surprisingly, seed abortion occurred with significantly greater probability if there was a second intact seed in the fruit. This strategy provides a fitness benefit if abortion can prevent a sibling seed from co-infestation and if non-abortion of an infested, but surviving single seed saves resources invested in the fruit coat. Ecological evidence for complex decision making in plants thus includes a structural memory (the second seed), simple reasoning (integration of inner and outer conditions), conditional behaviour (abortion), and anticipation of future risks (seed predation).
    The American Naturalist 03/2014; 183(3):376-383. · 4.55 Impact Factor

Full-text

View
5 Downloads