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From Plant Math to Plant Time

The notion of plant “intelligence” has been a perennially fascinating subject to many people, and it’s been in the news recently (please see here for example).

Aspects of this topic popped up in the plant news about six months ago. Here’s a sampling of this and and some other “tasty” subjects from June 2013.

  • Can plants do math? New research shows that to prevent starvation at night, plants perform accurate arithmetic division: Plants do sums to get through the night.
    How do plants like sunflowers create such perfect floret arrangements, and what does it have to do with Fibonacci numbers? A plant hormone called auxin, which spurs the growth of leaves, flowers, and other plant organs, is the key“: Sunflowers Do the Math.
  • Robot plants? Well, not exactly. But how plants organize themselves and how local decisions between a few cells can affect the whole plant may be used in research to program more “intelligent” and adaptable robot swarms: Plant intelligence for better swarm robots.
  • In the future will we be using plants as night lights? Last June a Kickstarter project was posted to create a small leafy plant that will be made to glow in the dark using synthetic-biology techniques. This “Glowing Plant” project triggered some lively discussions: Glowing plants spark debate.
  • Do plants tell time? Yes, indeed, plants tell time. And understanding the workings of their internal clocks can help us improve what we get from our crops: Peter Freeman: Plants tell time.
    Do crop plants know what time it is? It may be healthier for you if they do, according to new research from Rice University and the University of California at Davis: Does your salad know what time it is?.
  • Next Time: Some more plant news “tidbits” from last year, featuring July 2013.

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