A new study followed the way plant growth is influenced by external factors. The conclusion is that plants make decisions on how to adapt based on a risk assessment strategy.
Experts say it would be the first time when an organism with no nervous system can be seen in having an adaptive response to the environment.
However, the authors of the study explain that plants are not intelligent like humans and other animals. The plant growth behavior can be complex and interesting and it shows biological adaptations that are inducted by the evolutionary process. The organisms only execute the strategies that were destined to make their species survive.
In the experiment, the team of scientists from UK and Israel universities used pea plants with split roots that grew in separate pots. The plants were forced to take a decision concerning how much effort they would use to grow each root. Evidently, peas chose to grow more roots in the pot where more nutrients were found.
Then, scientists decided to keep an equal initial quantity of nutrients in the two pots, and then varied it over time. The more reasonable and safe option would have been for plants to grow more roots in the pot that offered a constant quantity of nutrients.
The researchers predicted that a low level of nutrients in both containers would increase the chances of plants growing more roots in the pot with variable density. However, when the nutrients level was high, they predicted that plant would choose to grow roots in the stable pot.
Other decision makers, such as animals and humans, prefer to have a more variable environment and have a higher capacity of accepting risks.
The researchers compared the choice plants had to take with the situation when a person would have to choose between taking $800 and tossing a coin to win $1,000. Without any other restrictions, an average person would prefer the first option as it presents a more secure winning.
The second option would be similar to having no money and being in desperate need for $900 to get home. The circumstances differ, as well as the person’s need. It’s not about gaining extra money; it’s about getting the exact amount that would secure the need. The coin toss would give a 50% chance of success while just taking the smaller amount of money would not be sufficient.
The results showed that plants did not settle for less and chose the strategic option. Their decision-making process, even if not taken on an individual basis, showed excellent evolutionary strategies.
The researchers add the fact that it is unclear if the plant growth responded to the variance, or if their physiology is adapted to risk responses.
However, the plant growth seems to be designed to exploit opportunities and to be flexible. They exhibit the same decision-making model that was observed in human and animal behavior.
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