- Saturday, 10 June 2017
In that time, plants have evolved some incredible traits, and as a new study led by the University of Birmingham reveals, a “brain” may also be one of them. Not one in the same sense that animals have, mind you, but a series of cells acting as a command center of sorts.
Found within plant embryos, these cells have been found to make key decisions in terms of the plant’s life cycle. Most significantly, they trigger germination, something that needs to be timed perfectly in order to avoid appearing too early in a frigid winter or too late in a warm summer populated by too much competing flora. Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers first located these all-important cells within a plant called Arabidopsis, commonly known as thale cress. The command center is split between two types of cell – one that encourages seeds to remain dormant and one that initiates germination.
Using hormones to communicate, much in the way that nerve cells within brains do, the cells assess the environmental conditions around them and decide when it’s best to begin the birthing process, so to speak. This is incredibly difficult to observe in real-time in plant embryos, so the team relied on mathematical modeling to predict how biological processes will unfold in the most common scenarios.
Coming to the conclusion that this hormonal exchange was controlling the germination process, the team then used a genetically modified version of the thale cress plant to make sure the cells were more prominently interconnected. This way, the movement of hormones between the cells showed up more – and ultimately, the team spotted the command center cells talking to each other in this way.
So plants may not technically have brains, but they sure act like they do.
Source : iflscience