It’s been sought for decades:
Similar to how human immune defenses counter an attack from viruses, plants have been shown to respond to danger from plant-eating animals through an intricate immune system of receptors. Using a method of pinpointing genetic variants, called forward genetics, research led by Adam Steinbrenner, Alisa Huffaker and Eric Schmelz of UC San Diego’s Division of Biological Sciences enabled discovery the inceptin receptor, termed INR, in bean plants. The receptor detects conserved plant protein fragments accidently released as digestive products during caterpillar munching, thereby enabling plant recognition of attack.
“INR represents the first documented mechanism of a plant cell surface receptor responsible for perceiving animals,” said Schmelz, whose work was accomplished by deconstructing and leveraging the active evolutionary arms race between plants and herbivores. “Our work provides some of the earliest defined mechanistic insights into the question of how plants recognize different attacking herbivores and activate immunity to animals. It is a fundamental question in biology that has been pursued for 30 years.”
Beyond beans, the finding raises interest in using INR, and potentially other receptors that remain to be discovered, as a way to boost defenses in essential agricultural crops.
“A key lesson is that plant perception mechanisms for herbivores can be precisely defined and moved into crops to afford enhanced protection,” said Schmelz. “We have shown one example but it’s clear that hundreds if not thousands of opportunities exist to identify and stack key traits to enhance crop plant immunity to herbivores.”UCal San Diego, “Researchers reveal switch used in plant defense against animal attack” at ScienceDaily
(Of course, all that complex specified information just sort of happened due to natural selection acting on random mutations (Darwinism). The information budget of sheer randomness turns out to be unlimited… 😉 )
More about plant intelligence (no claims made for consciousness or moral choice, but still … ):
Scientists: Plants Are NOT Conscious! No, but why do serious plant scientists even need to make that clear? What has happened? Quite simply, the need to see humans as equivalent to animals has now spread to the need to see us as equivalent to plants.
Can plants be as smart as animals? Seeking to thrive and grow, plants communicate extensively, without a mind or a brainSeeking to thrive and grow, plants communicate extensively, without a mind or a brain
Is salad murder? If we think plants are “equal organisms” with respect to humans, it’s not clear whether salad is or isn’t murder. Or whether murder is even a serious ethical problem.
Researchers: Yes, plants have nervous systems too. Not only that but, like mammals, they use glutamate to speed transmission