It has been commonly believed that humans and animals are the only ones that have intelligence. Memories, Perception, Emotions, reaction etc are not commonly linked to plants. Though plants have been in existence longer than humans and most animals, they are ignored as a social being. Recently, these misconceptions about plants have been proven wrong by researchers and scientists. Plants respond to stimulus, have memory and need sleep just like humans and animals
More recently, Professor Volkman (Germany) has unlocked the secrets of plant intelligence by his experiments on pea plants and bean plants. It has been observed that stimulation with a wooden stick result in tendrils getting stimulated. Pea plants outer surface has sensors that send signals to the inner cells for growth when stimulated. Sensitive plants (Mimosa pudica) on the other hand, have water pressure inside the cell walls as sort of a defense mechanism. Any sudden movements or touch results in pressure drop and sagging of the plant. It is said this defense mechanism could have developed as a result of “frightening insects” that land on it. This is the same sort of defense mechanism that carnivorous plants use to catch their prey. Plants like Drosera and Darlingtonia have similar defense mechanisms. As insects enter Darlingtonia, they get trapped inside the interior belly of the plant in sort of an enclosure. This enclosure creates mimicry of multiple exits that the insects get fooled by and lose all their energy trying to find the real exit. Drosera too has similar defense mechanisms to trap flies, mosquitoes and other insects. Many other plants have defense mechanisms in the form of hair or sensors that trigger plant reaction upon being touched. Some even trigger reactions due to electricity and sound waves. The dancing plant (Desmonium Jarons) for example, reacts to music and sound waves in general. Many music composers even have composed specialized music for these sort of plants to grow and bear fruits. Wouter Van Hoven (Biologist, Southafrica) recently studied the chemicals that plants produce as defense mechanisms and its effects on animals. In response to a sudden decline in Koodoo population (Deer Species), an investigation was carried out to determine the cause of massive Koodoo wipeout. It was determined that the mortalities were population density related. As the feeding Koodoo population density increased, the plant prey released ethylene in high proportions which in turn increased the fermentation rate and production of ten units on. This high ten on level proved toxic to animals as it would be more than they could digest as part of their meal. A defense mechanism that is undetectable unless by autopsy and analysis of deer stomach contents. Thus, plants respond to stimulus not only for growth but also as defense mechanisms.
Studies have also shown that plants have memories just like humans. In Darwin’s theories, it has been indicated that plants have some sort of root brains. And so the roots would act as a central nervous system. Hence the “Root Brain theory” comes into existence. Recently, scientists have found a small portion of root that supports Darwin’s “Root Brain” theory. According to Dr. Frantisek Baluska (Biologist), plants without root caps do not show “worm-like behavior” in their growth pattern. This root cap is assumed to be the central nervous system and the brains of the “Root Brain theory”. Researchers found cells with molecules like lactin in the “zone of transition”. These are the same molecules found in animal muscle cells. The synapse connections between the cells of the roots with these molecules that show similarity with humans where these synapse connections allow human perception, memory and thought. “Plants know when to go to dormancy or flowering” which proves the analysis of “Root zone theory”. According to scientists, cells in plants may be different than animals but the results are the same.
Research in Japan on plant sleep is transforming this world views about plants. Research plants included plants similar to the shy plant and the tests included water and other chemicals. It was shown that the shy plants would close up in response to chemicals and would remain open in response to water. This research concluded that though the effects of chemicals on plant sleep are irrefutable, the fact why plants need sleep or the nature of their sleep is still a topic of immense research.
In conclusion, “Fundamental research in plants can rattle conventional thinking” but it opens our eyes and worldviews about how much science still has to “learn from the natural world”.