Frantisek Baluska : What a Plant Knows and Perceives

Tuesday 03 Jul 09:00 AM (1 hour 30 minutes)
consciousnessproblem-solvingbiologyplant synapsesplant neurobiologyevolution

Frantisek Baluska (Speaker)
University of Bonn, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Botany

Suzanne Held (Moderator)
Bristol Veterinary School (University of Bristol)

Plant science considers plants passive organisms, not capable of cognition and behavior. Yet already in 1880 Charles and Francis Darwin had noted that this was an over-simplification. According to Karl Popper (1994), all life is problem-solving. Plant scientists today still maintain that plants perceive and process environmental information automatically, with no neuron-like sensory-motor systems and cognitive processes. Yet evidence is emerging that plants actively sense their environment and have sensory-motor systems that are sensitive to anesthetics. Hence some kind of sentience/consciousness may underlie their responsiveness to their sensory experiences and their capacity to control their plant-specific cognition and behavior. 

Calvo P, Sahi VP, Trewavas A (2017) Are plants sentient? Plant Cell Environ 40:2858-2869 
Gagliano M (2017) The mind of plants: thinking the unthinkableCommun Integr Biol 10: 1288333 
Popper K (1994) All Life is Problem Solving. Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group 
Trewavas A, Baluška (2011) The ubiquity of consciousnessEMBO Rep 12: 1221-1225 
Yokawa K, Kagenishi T, Pavlovič A, Gall S, Weiland M, Mancuso S, Baluška F (2017) Anesthetics block plant action potentials and stop plant movements. Ann Bot, In press

University of Bonn, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Botany
Bristol Veterinary School (University of Bristol)

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