NYT — Scientists showed that plants are much less passive than they seem by revealing the secret workings of their threat communijcation systems.
Simon Gilroy, U. Wisconsin-Madison botanist wrote:Plants are not green animals. Plants are different, but sometimes they’re remarkably similar to how animals operate.
Plants have no eyes, no ears, no mouth and no hands. They do not have a brain or a nervous system. Muscles? Forget them. They’re stuck where they started, soaking up the sun and sucking up nutrients from the soil. And yet, when something comes around to eat them, they sense it.
And they fight back.
How is this possible?
“You’ve got to think like a vegetable now,” says Simon Gilroy, a botanist who studies how plants sense and respond to their environments at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“Plants are not green animals,” Dr. Gilroy says. “Plants are different, but sometimes they’re remarkably similar to how animals operate.”
To reveal the secret workings of a plant’s threat communication system for a study published Thursday in Science, Masatsugu Toyota (now a professor at Saitama University in Japan) and other researchers in Dr. Gilroy’s lab sent in munching caterpillars like in the video below. They also slashed leaves with scissors.
They applied glutamate, an important neurotransmitter that helps neurons communicate in animals.
A cabbage caterpillar eats through leaves of the mustard plant, triggering a wave of calcium across the plant.