Nav: Home

Scientists explore new concepts of plant behavior and interactions

May 25, 2016

Plants 'talk' to each other through mycorrhizal networks, but can we eavesdrop on what plants are talking about? They can sense chemicals through their roots, but can we sensibly talk about how they 'search' for food? While a lot is already known about plant perception, our ecological understanding of plants has largely focused on seeing plants as the sum of a series of building blocks or traits. A new special issue Using Ideas from Behavioural Ecology to Understand Plants edited by JC Cahill of the University of Alberta, and published by AoB PLANTS gathers researchers who have taken a new approach, theorising plant activity in terms of behaviour.

The term "behaviour" has been controversial in the past, particularly given the lack of a central nervous system in plants for cognition. The authors in all the papers in this issue argue this is missing the point. Just as reducing animals to cells and hormones will miss a large aspect of what we can learn about animals, taking a behavioural view opens up new opportunities for plant research. Papers in the issue include studies of plant interactions with their environments as well as 'social' interactions with other plants of both the same and other species.

On the launch of the issue, JC Cahill said: "Scientists have historically viewed plants as factories. Give the right resources as inputs and you get your desired outputs. This paradigm is shifting out of favour, and its place a more organismal view of what being a plant means. This special issue includes a number of articles which describe this more holistic view of plant biology, and provide a framework for future research and understanding."

The ten papers in this issue draw upon the increasing body of work in the field of Plant Behavioural Ecology, and will form a foundation for further work in this field.
AoB PLANTS is an open access journal with a strong focus on environmental and evolutionary biology, owned by the Annals of Botany Company and published by Oxford University Press. The special issue on plant behavioural ecology can be accessed at:

Oxford University Press

Related Plants Articles:

Transgenic plants against malaria
Scientists have discovered a gene that allows to double the production of artemisinin in the Artemisia annua plant.
How plants can tell friend from foe
The plant's immune system can recognize whether a piece of RNA is an invader or not based on whether the RNA has a threaded bead-like structure at the end, say University of Tokyo researchers.
Plants at the pump
Regular, unleaded or algae? That's a choice drivers could make at the pump one day.
How do people choose what plants to use?
There are about 400,000 species of plants in the world.
Defend or grow? These plants do both
From natural ecosystems to farmers' fields, plants face a dilemma of energy use: outgrow and outcompete their neighbors for light, or defend themselves against insects and disease.
How do plants protect themselves against sunburn?
To protect themselves against UV-B, which are highly harmful, plants have developed cellular tools to detect them and build biochemical defenses.
Pea plants demonstrate ability to 'gamble' -- a first in plants
An international team of scientists from Oxford University, UK, and Tel-Hai College, Israel, has shown that pea plants can demonstrate sensitivity to risk -- namely, that they can make adaptive choices that take into account environmental variance, an ability previously unknown outside the animal kingdom.
A 'Fitbit' for plants?
Knowing what physical traits a plant has is called phenotyping.
How plants conquered the land
Research at the University of Leeds has identified a key gene that assisted the transition of plants from water to the land around 500 million years ago.
Plants are 'biting' back
Calcium phosphate is a widespread biomineral in the animal kingdom: Bones and teeth largely consist of this very tough mineral substance.

Related Plants Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...