Thursday, November 26, 2009

on Plant-Behavior

Attended some really cool talks in the symposium. commemorating Darwin and 150 years of his seminal-book "the Origin Of Species". A brief on one of them......

A senior agricultural scientist, Prof. K N Ganeshaiah ( ), from the the Univ. of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), here at Bangalore, spoke with rarely seen passion and excitement on 'Plant-Behavior' and how that has evolved over time. Although he tended to anthropomorphise plants and their responses to complex situations by comparing plant-behavior to commonly seen behavior in animals, but the similarities were quite convincing and definitely, indeed a very enlightening 45 minutes spent.
He spoke on sexual-selection - in plants, an issue rarely delved into, citing the commonly seen case of 'Vaginal-Plugging' in the plant Kleinhovia hospita, whereby the most dominant male-organ plugs the entry point to the female opening via secretion of a chemical which inhibits the growth of other competing pollen-tubes (Pollen-Tube competition). He mentioned curious cases in plants where ovules were selectively-aborted to facilitate the growth of the 'fittest' ovule.
He discussed about the normally animal-centric, parent-offspring conflict in plants, citing the example of a pea-pod, where the siblings growing in the pod compete for resources and in several documented cases there's a clear winner at the cost of others.
He concluded his lecture with comments on the upcoming and hugely controversial field of Plant-Neurobiology, and the super-quest for cognition in plants.......I always thought the field was dead after the lone efforts of Sir J C it turns out, the pages have just been turned!!

Some References:

Sexual selection in plants: Pros and cons
Vol. 92, pp. 1247-1250, February 1995

The quest for cognition in plant neurobiology

A general introduction to plant neurobiology can be found in: society/index.php.

Plant neurobiology: no brain, no gain?
TRENDS in Plant Science Vol.12 No.4


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