Plants communicate with each other, actively compete against one another for resources, and are capable of learning from their experiences.
The interesting claims about plants suggest that they can communicate with each other, compete against one another for resources, and are even capable of learning from their past experiences. Yes, it is a fact!
How Plants Communicate
Plants do not have a brain or neuronal network as such, but past studies have shown that reactions within signaling pathways may provide a biochemical basis for their learning and memory. Plants do respond sensitively to environmental stimuli with movement and other changes in morphology. Studies have shown that plants signal and communicate within and among themselves as they actively compete for the limited resources, both above and below ground. Plants respond to environmental stressors, and are also capable of discriminating positive and negative experiences and of ‘learning’ (registering memories) from their past experiences. Plants use all this information to adapt and survive in present and future challenges of their environment.
For example, when physiologists at the University of Western Australia planted pepper seeds near basil, they observed the seeds perform better than when planted alone. These beneficial effects continued even when they were separated with sheets of plastic, blocking any known form of communication, like chemical or touch, and even shared perception of the environment, like light levels and moisture.
A new study in 2013 has demonstrated that plants can even connect through a common underground network of fungus known as mycorrhizae and warn each other about incoming insect attacks. The study conducted by researchers from the University of Aberdeen, the James Hutton Institute and Rothamsted Research demonstrated that the plants are able to send warnings of incoming aphids (plant lice) to other plants connected to their network. It was also found that the plants then send out a chemical signal that repels aphids and attracts wasps, which are natural predators of aphids. It was observed that the plants in the study which were not connected to the fungal network did not send out any warning signals to other plants after coming under attack. In the TEDxTalks video shown below, a Professor in ecology demonstrates and explains in simple terms how plants communicate with each other, compete, and learn from their experiences.
The concept of plant intelligence is not new. In fact back in 1880, Charles Darwin published ‘The Power of Movement in Plants,’ describing phototropism and other types of movement in plants, but the concept has been slow to creep into the general consciousness. Scientists say that research into this novel form of plant communication is still in its early days, and that there are many unanswered questions. Learning the secrets of plant communication can have many practical applications that could benefit humans. Scientists predict this can help farmers encourage or discourage the growth of certain plants, and negate the need for fertilizers or pesticides.
Hoax or Fact:
Plant perception (physiology) and intelligence
Plant Talk: Peppers Dig Basil’s Good Vibrations
Plants “Listen” to the Good Vibes of Other Plants
Study: Plants communicate with each other via underground fungi