Scientists Discover Plant "Brain" Controlling Seed Development

Article by William Brown, Biophysicist, Resonance Science Foundation Research Scientist

In a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), scientists from the University of Birmingham have shown that a small group of cells within the plant embryo operate in a similar way to the human brain.

Such a finding may seem contradictory to the predominant conventional perception of plants, as they are often viewed in the same way inanimate objects are, or at best as living things with extremely limited informational processing capabilities. Of course, this predominant sentiment is highly erroneous, as despite our traditional perceptions regarding plants they are every bit as alive as animals and share many of the same capabilities and characteristics.

This understanding has led some pioneering and visionary scientists to investigate the practically verboten field of plant cognition. Researchers like Dr. Monica Gagliano have documented extensively the cognitive and sensory capabilities of plants through systematic and rigorous experimentation.

In the latest study by University of Birmingham, researchers demonstrate that temperature variability is integrated by a networked group of cells in germinating seeds that functions as a decision-making center, similar to the function of brains in animal species. This allows dormant seeds to ascertain the optimal time to germinate based on environmental information.

The study should help to re-inform the conventional perception of plants as well as help to advance agricultural efficiency and productivity.

Both plants and animals make decisions in response to the environment to maximize their fitness. Plants use dormancy in seeds to move through time and space, and timing of the transition to germination is influenced by external cues, including temperature. Here, we report the presence of a decision-making center within the root tip of dormant seeds and demonstrate that it shares a similar configuration as some systems within the human brain. Unlike in humans, where this spatial structure is used to filter out noisy inputs from the environment, seeds use this arrangement to harness fluctuating temperatures and stimulate the termination of dormancy. Variable inputs therefore act as an instructive signal for seeds, enhancing the accuracy with which plants are established in ecosystems.– Alexander Topham et alia, 2017.

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Article: Scientists discover plant 'brain' controlling seed development