Are plants smart? | EOS Sciences

In 1997, Canadian forest ecologist Suzanne Simard described it in an article nature-An article about how trees exchange carbon through an underground fungal network. In the following years, Simard developed the idea of ​​communication and cooperation between tree species – Wide mesh of wood Or the Internet of Plants – and has emerged as an excellent communicator through books, short films and TED talks. In her latest book, The Vulgar Looking for the mother tree It talks, among other things, about the special role of large and old trees, which take care of their offspring by providing them with additional nutrition and protection.

Simard relied on insights dating back to the early 1990s, when it was conclusively shown that plants respond via electrical signals. Terms such as intelligent plant behavior, plant brain, or consciousness have become popular since then. It remains a popular topic today. Simard's book is an international bestseller, as are publications by Italian biologist Stefano Mancuso – who calls himself a plant neurobiologist – or The hidden life of trees From German forest manager/ranger Peter Wohlleben. Books certainly have the advantage of attracting more attention to nature conservation and offering a different perspective on the nature experience.

But there are also criticisms. As early as the 19th century, Darwin rejected Aristotle's idea of ​​plants having no soul and therefore no significance. But attributing human characteristics to plants is considered a stretch by some ecologists. Three of them carefully reviewed Simard's research last year and concluded that there was insufficient evidence for an underground internet of plants or the concept of a mother tree passing knowledge to its offspring. Simard defends himself and promises strong answers. Two groups of scholars fighting, as long as the discussions remain honest and polite, it's okay. Science advances by continually questioning evidence and further research.

See also  Lunch at work: healthy and affordable

in The new number Our biologists express themselves cautiously. There are no very bold statements about plants' consciousness and altruism, or their ability to talk to each other. To begin with, you should already have a generally accepted definition of intelligence, and there is no single definition. But plants can certainly perceive, interpret and respond to stimuli. “Plants are incredibly successful without a mind or consciousness. They simply don’t need that,” says Philipp Rolland, a plant physiologist in Leuven.

Megan Vasquez

"Creator. Coffee buff. Internet lover. Organizer. Pop culture geek. Tv fan. Proud foodaholic."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *