Intelligent Design News Plants

Can plants calculate? Read this.

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From Helmholtz Centre for the Environment and the University of Gottingen, via the American Society of Naturalists:

Plants are able to make complex decisions too. This at least is the conclusion of scientists from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the University of Göttingen based on their investigations on the barberry (Berberis vulgaris), which is able to abort its own seeds to prevent parasite infestation. The results are the first ecological evidence of complex behavior in plants. They indicate that this species has a structural memory and is able to differentiate between inner and outer conditions as well as anticipate future risks, scientists write in the renowned journal The American Naturalist.

When analysing their samples, the scientists came across a surprising discovery: whether seeds of infested fruits are actually aborted depends on how many seeds there are in the berry. If the infested fruit contains two seeds, then in 75 percent of cases, the plants will abort the infested seeds, in order to save the second intact seed. If, however, the infested fruit only contains one seed, then the plant will abort the infested seed only in 5 percent of cases to protect the investment in the fruit coat. Using Monte-Carlo calculations, scientists were able to demonstrate this to be anticipative behavior whereby anticipated losses and present conditions are weighed up. The Oregon grape, closely related to the barberry, has been living in Europe for some 200 years, yet it has not developed any comparable defense strategy.

If this holds up: The plant does not think, but something in it thinks.

Adaptive and Selective Seed Abortion Reveals Complex Conditional Decision Making in Plants

Abstract: Behavior is traditionally attributed to animals only. Recently, evidence for plant behavior is accumulating, mostly from plant physiological studies. Here, we provide ecological evidence for complex plant behavior in the form of seed abortion decisions conditional on internal and external cues. We analyzed 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 coinfestation and if nonabortion 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 behavior (abortion), and anticipation of future risks (seed predation).

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4 Replies to “Can plants calculate? Read this.

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Reminds me of this:

    Biological Arithmetic: Plants Do Sums to Get Through the Night – June 24, 2013
    Excerpt: In research to be published in the open access journal eLife, scientists at the John Innes Centre show that plants make precise adjustments to their rate of starch consumption. These adjustments ensure that the starch store lasts until dawn even if the night comes unexpectedly early or the size of the starch store varies.
    The John Innes Centre scientists show that to adjust their starch consumption so precisely they must be performing a mathematical calculation — arithmetic division.,,,
    During the night, mechanisms inside the leaf measure the size of the starch store and estimate the length of time until dawn. Information about time comes from an internal clock, similar to our own body clock. The size of the starch store is then divided by the length of time until dawn to set the correct rate of starch consumption, so that, by dawn, around 95% of starch is used up.
    “The calculations are precise so that plants prevent starvation but also make the most efficient use of their food,” said Professor Smith.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....093524.htm

    potpourri:

    Desmodium Gyrans – The Dancing Plant – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-fIKlcCbSU

    Mimosa Pudica – The Sensitive Plant (Touch Me Not) – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLTcVNyOhUc

    Timelapse video of Flowers and Leaves – video
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/li.....t#p00lxwrh

    22 Unbelievable Places that are Hard to Believe Really Exist – photos
    http://www.boredpanda.com/amazing-places/

    Verse and Inspirational Poem:

    Ezekiel 47:12
    “,,,Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

    Autumn Leaf’s Laughter – Video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4181846/

    Autumn Leafs Laughter
    Oh please do tell us of your secret
    you majestic autumn leaves,of regal red ,and shimmering golden yellow,
    Brilliantly coloring the landscapes of trees .
    Do you dare pass away in a rush of beauty while you are slowly dying?
    Pay ye no heed to all the other deaths so solemnly attended with tears and crying?
    or Does the essence in you somehow yearn jealously for a glorious life to come?
    And you somehow know that death shouldn’t be sad but fun?
    For I truly wish I could die like you and that I knew the secret of your story, so that my countenance should light up and glow as my soul is delivered to behold God,s glory.
    So please autumn leaves which mock death with such defiant belly laughter,
    Do tell us your secret over death so that we may properly enter the hereafter.

  2. 2
    nightlight says:

    The plant does not think, but something in it thinks.

    Is this supposed to mean the same as “you don’t think but something inside you thinks”?

    But then, how do you know that even that “something” thinks, rather than itself having another “something else” which is inside of the inside that actually thinks for the original mere “something inside.” You can keep going like that for ever, into insides of insides, without actually saying anything beyond your arbitrary semantic rejiggering between “plant” and “something inside it that I choose to call non-plant.”

    Why not use the Occam’s razor — plants don’t appear to think, they think. The same way as one might apply it by saying — world does not appear designed, it is designed.

  3. 3
    Axel says:

    Isn’t evolution wonderful! It never ceases to surprise us, does it? ABIOGENESIS and RANDOM CHANCE even more spifflimificating! To think nada* could be so fertile (no, American friends, not as in ‘myrtle’, but as in, ’tile’) and create and guide such intelligence in mere plants! Or did it front-load it?

    In another connection, it both appears designed and is designed, nightlife – which makes Dawkins’ remark to the effect that, most deceptively, everything just has the appearance of being designed, farcical, in the context of science, the discovery and measurement of the empirical.

    *I like the name, Nadine, pronounced the American way, as of Charlie Varrick’s unfortunate**, side-kick moll in the eponymous film. Applied to a woman, it’s kind of evocative of fertility. Well, sex, I suppose, if I must be honest.

    ** She was shot in the get-away from their bank raid.

  4. 4
    Robert Byers says:

    if so it teaches that thinking and using the memory are different things. Plants don’t think but possible a memory operation is going on. No different then in animals or computers.
    No thinking going however.

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