The study has shown you don't need complex cognitive abilities to make smart decisions.
When it comes to nutrients, it’s been found that plants are much smarter than we give them credit for.
A new study has revealed how plants are able to adapt to new environments depending on the optimum way they can get the nutrients – even if that means taking a risk to do it.
Dr. Hagai Shemesh from Tel-Hai College in Israel and Alex Kacelnik, a behavioral ecologist from Oxford University, decided to experiment using pea plants to evaluate their calculated decisions. They grew the plants in a controlled environment with each plant with two of its roots in two different pots – one with a high, consistent amount of nutrients and the other with the same amounts but at varying levels. They found that the pea plant decided to grow more roots in the pot that contained consistently larger amounts of nutrients – an obvious result.
They then changed the amount of nutrients in each pot with the consistent pot having low amounts and the other pot averaging higher but varying amounts from low to high.
Surprisingly, the results showed that despite the consistent pot supplying it with nutrients, the plant chose to grow more of its roots in the varying pot showing it was prepared to take the risk of getting high amounts of nutrients despite its sometimes low levels.
“They are less than pea brains, they are no brains,” said Dr. Kacelnik. “But they did it.”
“It raises a question, not about plants, but about animals and humans, because if plants can solve this problem simply,” then maybe humans can, too, said Shemesh “We have a very fancy brain, but maybe most of the time we’re not using it.”
It’s unclear how or why the plants made their decision but the researchers believe it’s more about following rules rather than calculated reasoning. However, it shows the complexity of nature’s behavior despite not having a brain or nervous system like we do.
The study was published in the journal Current Biology.