We humans and animals have brains and complex nervous system which help us to weigh the risk factors before making a decision, but does plants have such ability?
Yes, a recent study conducted by a group of international researchers discovered that plants can make better decisions despite lack of a brain. This experiment was conducted to understand whether plants can like humans and animals show risk sensitivity. The results of the study where published on Thursday in journal Current Biology.
Alex Kacelnik, a behavioral ecologist from Oxford University and Dr. Hagai Shemesh from Tel-Hai College in Israel experimented this on pea plants to judge their decision making power. They split the roots of the plant between two pots containing same level of nutrients, one with differed level and left the plant to decide which pot during unstable conditions.
“To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of an adaptive response to risk in an organism without a nervous system,” says researcher Alex Kacelnik.
“We do not conclude that plants are intelligent in the sense used for humans or other animals, but rather that complex and interesting behaviors can theoretically be predicted as biological adaptations–and executed by organisms–on the basis of processes evolved to exploit natural opportunities efficiently,” added Alex.
As predicted by the scientists, plants chose to grow more roots in the pot which contains varied level of nutrients than in the pots with same level of nutrients. This shows that the plants know when to take risks.
“They are less than pea brains, they are no brains,” said Dr. Kacelnik. “But they did it.”
Dr. Shemesh that the experiment raises a question not about plants, but about animals and humans, because if plants can solve this problem simply, may be humans can too. “We have a very fancy brain, but may be most of the time we’re not using it,” he added.
Despite not having brain or nervous system pea plants evaluate risks, but how? is the next question for researchers. So, more experiments should be conducted to understand this clearly. Dr. Shemesh thinks that plants must be following rules rather than reasoning. “Even if you have no cognition or fancy nervous system, you can still get some pretty complicated behavior.”