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Plants Recognize Siblings!





myqute
Quote:
Plants may not have eyes and ears, but they can recognize their siblings, and researchers at the University of Delaware have discovered how. The ID system lies in the roots and the chemical cues they secrete. The finding not only sheds light on the intriguing sensing system in plants, but also...
---> http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-10/uod-prs101409.php

Quote tags added. - ocalhoun
lovescience
I read the article. If plants are planted next to their siblings, they tend to have shorter root and higher trunk. If plants are planted next to other plants which are not their siblings, they tend to grow longer root and shorter trunk. The plants can tell who are their siblings by the chemical sent out from other plants' root.

So, can one plant have the chemical sent out from its root like a plant's sibling although they are not siblings?
menino
Plants do have an intelligent sense about them, and its still being discovered.
Nice article, by they way and thanks for sharing.
It is nice to know about plants that way, and the world we live in.
Apart from giving us oxygen and food, and the green earth effect, i.e. cleaning up our air, we have a lot to give to plants, and understand them as well.

They have an internal neuron system that is quite complex and still not decoded as yet, I think, but if they could talk to us, I wonder what they would tell us.
lovescience
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10598926

They respond to light, maybe we should talk to them through light. If they know we respond to language, maybe they would talk to us with the language.
ocalhoun
lovescience wrote:
maybe they would talk to us with the language.


I do think plants are more aware of their surroundings than most think, and that they might even be as intelligent (in a slow, decentralized way) as some of the more primitive animals...

But to think that you could have an intelligent conversation with one might be expecting too much.
Bikerman
Not me. I think the notion of intelligence is dependant not on the ability to process stimulii in a rather mechanistic manner, but to be able to abstract - ask 'what if' questions.
I do not see how that is possible without some 'thinking organ', and any such organ must be able to process and retrieve large quantities of stored data (and do so as close to 'real time' as possible). I see nothing in plant biology that could possibly fullfill this function.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:

I do not see how that is possible without some 'thinking organ',

But perhaps such an organ does not need to be centralized as it is in animals.
It could be that tissues all over the plant could be involved in that role.
Quote:
and any such organ must be able to process and retrieve large quantities of stored data (and do so as close to 'real time' as possible).

Not sure about the need to be in 'real time' either.
'Real time' for a plant might be far slower than 'real time' for us.
Since the actions a plant can perform usually take place over pretty long time periods, slow processing may not make much of a difference, since fast processing would just be delayed by reaction time anyway.


Don't take me the wrong way though... I may believe that plants have souls, but I don't believe they have high intelligence. I'd guess that the very smartest plants might be the intellectual match for say, a grasshopper.
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
Bikerman wrote:

I do not see how that is possible without some 'thinking organ',

But perhaps such an organ does not need to be centralized as it is in animals.
It could be that tissues all over the plant could be involved in that role.
Not really. The plant contains nothing analogous to a central nervous system so even if we allow for distributed processing - for which there is no real evidence or capacity - then how could you possibly link the decentralised processors together to allow meaningful interaction? We do it with nerves which work relatively quickly. Plants have no such thing - they have some chemical pathways but that, I contend, would not be either quick enough or stable enough to allow such linkage.
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and any such organ must be able to process and retrieve large quantities of stored data (and do so as close to 'real time' as possible).

Not sure about the need to be in 'real time' either.
'Real time' for a plant might be far slower than 'real time' for us.
Since the actions a plant can perform usually take place over pretty long time periods, slow processing may not make much of a difference, since fast processing would just be delayed by reaction time anyway.
Intelligence requires thought. Thought is incredibly complex - interactions of billions of neurones. If you slow that right down then I don't think it would be simply a quantitive change - I think it would be a qualititive change that would actually destroy consciousness.
loremar
One thing for sure. Mr. Wikipedia disagrees with Mr. Bikerman. Laughing
Wikipedia:Intelligence wrote:
Intelligence is most widely studied in humans, but has also been observed in animals and plants.

Wikipedia:Plant Intelligence wrote:
Intelligence is an umbrella term describing abilities such as the capacities for abstract thought, understanding, communication, reasoning, learning, learning from past experiences, planning, and problem solving. Studies indicate plants are capable of problem solving and communication.

Is it that the word intelligence is ill-defined? Or is it that humans' head is too huge he wants intelligence for himself? lol.
Bikerman
OK...so maybe I'm being parochial in my understanding of intelligence. As I said, if one defines it as a process that a brain-stem dead human is alive and probably intelligent to some minimal degree in their autonomic response to stimulii.
Intelligence, to me, involves the ability to reason.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
they have some chemical pathways but that, I contend, would not be either quick enough or stable enough to allow such linkage.

As for the 'quick enough', I'm still of the opinion that intelligence* doesn't have any minimum speed. More on that later.

As for stable enough... I'm not sure about that at all. Not sure how stable such chemical pathways are, nor am I sure how stable they need to be for low levels of intelligence.


*Or, since we have somewhat different definitions of intelligence, perhaps I should use a word like awareness.

Bikerman wrote:
OK...so maybe I'm being parochial in my understanding of intelligence.
[...]
Intelligence, to me, involves the ability to reason.

Quote:

Intelligence requires thought. Thought is incredibly complex - interactions of billions of neurones. If you slow that right down then I don't think it would be simply a quantitive change - I think it would be a qualititive change that would actually destroy consciousness.

Ah, I see we're having a problem of definitions...
I'm not trying to say that plants are conscious in any way, nor intelligent by your definition.
In the interests of more precise definitions, how would you describe the 'intelligence' of a grasshopper? ... Preferably with one word... I thought of 'awareness'... but that doesn't really seem to encompass the processing and responding aspects of it.

And as for consciousness having a minimum speed, I don't see why it should.
If the consciousness is long-lived enough, and doesn't have any need to react quickly to things, I don't see why it couldn't work in much the same way, just on a slower time scale.
Physical constraints would dictate an upper limit on how fast it could be, but I don't see what would cause a lower limit on speed.
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
Ah, I see we're having a problem of definitions...
I'm not trying to say that plants are conscious in any way, nor intelligent by your definition.
In the interests of more precise definitions, how would you describe the 'intelligence' of a grasshopper? ... Preferably with one word... I thought of 'awareness'... but that doesn't really seem to encompass the processing and responding aspects of it.
There are systems which can be used to allocate a value, but they are approximate at best - most involve the anthropomorphic assumption of a brain and then simply work on body-brain mass ratio.
I'd say a grasshopper is minimally intelligent. It can clearly respond in a number of ways to simulii, but I think there has to be some element of 'planning' in intelligence - the ability to respond in an adaptable manner, depending on the requirements of the environment.
Quote:
And as for consciousness having a minimum speed, I don't see why it should.
If the consciousness is long-lived enough, and doesn't have any need to react quickly to things, I don't see why it couldn't work in much the same way, just on a slower time scale.
OK, here's one reason I think not. Intelligence, in all species we know about, carries a cost - in fact many costs. There is the energy cost of a switching network sufficient to the task. There are other costs, such as long infant gestation/dependency etc. Intelligence MUST therefore offer a survival advantage to develop in the first place and certainly to grow significantly. I do not see a slow-timescale consciousness/intelligence offerring such an advantage.

PS I take it as axiomatic that consciousness presupposes intelligence
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
It can clearly respond in a number of ways to simulii, but I think there has to be some element of 'planning' in intelligence - the ability to respond in an adaptable manner, depending on the requirements of the environment.

So, supposing that a grasshopper doesn't respond in an adaptable manner, that it pretty much just works on a strict stimulus-response matrix, what do you call its 'intelligence'?

Quote:
Intelligence MUST therefore offer a survival advantage to develop in the first place and certainly to grow significantly. I do not see a slow-timescale consciousness/intelligence offerring such an advantage.

That's fair enough, I suppose.
Still, though, I could see the advantage to it if it was still able to 'out-think' (and therefore out-compete) other plants.

On a more theoretical level, supposing it was on a planet where all forms of life were similarly slow, slow-and-intelligent could still out-compete slow-and-stupid.
Quote:

PS I take it as axiomatic that consciousness presupposes intelligence

Of course, but not vice versa, right?
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
It can clearly respond in a number of ways to simulii, but I think there has to be some element of 'planning' in intelligence - the ability to respond in an adaptable manner, depending on the requirements of the environment.

So, supposing that a grasshopper doesn't respond in an adaptable manner, that it pretty much just works on a strict stimulus-response matrix, what do you call its 'intelligence'?
Minimal...
Quote:

Quote:
Intelligence MUST therefore offer a survival advantage to develop in the first place and certainly to grow significantly. I do not see a slow-timescale consciousness/intelligence offerring such an advantage.

That's fair enough, I suppose.
Still, though, I could see the advantage to it if it was still able to 'out-think' (and therefore out-compete) other plants.
Nope - can't see it. A very slow speed of transmission (and therefore storage/recovery) would mean that the plant could, at best, decide in advance on a plan, but not improvise, unless the whole environment was extremely slow. Without the ability to improvise in something like real-time, you would need a phenomenal brain to be able to plan every contingency and calculate probable outcomes in advance. How could it evolve to that high intelligence....don't think it could.
Quote:
On a more theoretical level, supposing it was on a planet where all forms of life were similarly slow, slow-and-intelligent could still out-compete slow-and-stupid.
Then I would predict the evolution of fast and stupid, with energy going to speed/strength instead of brain.
Quote:
Quote:

PS I take it as axiomatic that consciousness presupposes intelligence

Of course, but not vice versa, right?
Indeed.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
unless the whole environment was extremely slow.

Exactly.
And when you look at just the aspects of plants competing with each other, the whole environment is slow.
Quote:

Then I would predict the evolution of fast and stupid, with energy going to speed/strength instead of brain.

Well, since all life on our theoretical planet is slow, I think we can assume there's some factor at play that makes 'fast' either undesirable or impossible.
...Perhaps the planet lacks some key chemical that would enable faster metabolisms... or something.
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
unless the whole environment was extremely slow.

Exactly.
And when you look at just the aspects of plants competing with each other, the whole environment is slow.
Nope...not necessarily true - some plants can 'act' in pretty quick timescales (seconds and minutes rather than days/weeks). However, even if it was true then I still cannot see what possible survival advantage would be represented by a primitive brain in a plant. To make sense one would, I think, have to also presuppose that the plant could actualise any strategies it invented - ie that if the plant decided that putting some potassium nitrate into the soil would benefit itself at cost to others, then the plant must also have some way of making that happen. I am pretty sure that no plant is capable of that because I believe it would necessessitate the evolution of a central nervous system, fine motor control, and some limbs to control. In short I think the brain can only evolve once other things are present.
Quote:

Quote:

Then I would predict the evolution of fast and stupid, with energy going to speed/strength instead of brain.

Well, since all life on our theoretical planet is slow, I think we can assume there's some factor at play that makes 'fast' either undesirable or impossible.
...Perhaps the planet lacks some key chemical that would enable faster metabolisms... or something.
I don't see why any planet would be confined to plant life, but even if we suppose such a thing exists then why would the plants not simply evolve animal-like features which would, certainly, offer several possible survival benefits? Obviously on earth plants have very little 'space' in that evolutionary direction because it is already occupied by animals, but in the absence of such competition I can well imagine plants evolving many traits - providing of course we allow them sexual, and not just asexual, reproduction.
loremar
How about making your own food? Isn't that more intelligent than chasing it? Very Happy
foumy6
This is so amazing I never knew this it is amazing how much we don't know about stuf like this but I have to say that this has me very intrigued
missdixy
Quote:
when siblings are grown next to each other in the soil, they "play nice" and don't send out more roots to compete with one another.


That's funny, considering how many (human) siblings are actually pretty competitive with each other!!
ocalhoun
missdixy wrote:
Quote:
when siblings are grown next to each other in the soil, they "play nice" and don't send out more roots to compete with one another.


That's funny, considering how many (human) siblings are actually pretty competitive with each other!!

That difference might actually have genetic/evolutionary reasons behind it...
Especially if plant and humans don't share the same amount of genetic material between their respective siblings.
mahirh
menino wrote:
but if they could talk to us, I wonder what they would tell us.

if it would, it would rather say that we are stupid for cutting them down Razz
milkshake01
Plants are much smarter than I previously thought. We still have a lot to discover in Science.
faginea
It's a nice article, thanks for sharing... but...

I don't think we should address this as "knowing" or "recognizing" their siblings. Plants development depends on environment conditions, and great part of it is chemical related. Some plants "secrete" chemicals that function as developing barriers to other species. That's how some garantee their space. Eucalyptus sp. is a good example. It can also happen that on some plants the secreted substance functions as a barrier to individuals of the same specie. That doesn't mean we can talk about "recongnition" of siblings. Life is a complex thing and living things diversity is huge. That's wonderful. But there's no need to make it more that is it giving human related capabilites to what is already wonderful per si.
Ankhanu
faginea wrote:
It's a nice article, thanks for sharing... but...

I don't think we should address this as "knowing" or "recognizing" their siblings. Plants development depends on environment conditions, and great part of it is chemical related. Some plants "secrete" chemicals that function as developing barriers to other species. That's how some garantee their space. Eucalyptus sp. is a good example. It can also happen that on some plants the secreted substance functions as a barrier to individuals of the same specie. That doesn't mean we can talk about "recongnition" of siblings. Life is a complex thing and living things diversity is huge. That's wonderful. But there's no need to make it more that is it giving human related capabilites to what is already wonderful per si.

Competetor/Inter-specific exclusion and kin recognition are different topics, though in some ways related. Current research is showing the ability of plants to recognize not only conspecifics, but closely related conspecifics (kin) as well, and change behaviours in response. I would argue that kin recognition is NOT a human-related capability... in fact, I'd say humans are relatively poor at kin recognition (unless we know an individual's immediate genealogy, we aren't very good at assessing the cues to relatedness), and kin recognition is FAR better exemplified in other organisms, such as social insects, vertebrates with well developed jacobsons organs, and, apparently, some plants.

As a starting point, you can take a read through these articles. There are many more available on the subject as well, with a little work journal searching.

Dudley, S.A. and File, A.L. 2007. Kin recognition in an annual plant. Biology Letters 4: 435-438.

Karban, R., Shiojiri, K., Ishizaki, S., Wetzel, W.C., and Evans, R.Y. 2013. Kin recognition affects plant communication and defence. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 280(1756) (** article behind pay wall)

Milla, R., Forero, D.M., Escudero, A., and Iriondo, J.M. 2009. Growing with siblings: a common ground for cooperation or for fiercer competition among plants? Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276: 2531-2540.

Biedrzycki, M.L. and Bais, H.P. 2010. Kin recognition in plants: a mysterious behaviour unsolved. Journal of Experimental Biology 61: 4123-4128.
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