Plants may be more intelligent than previously believed
Researchers have suggested that plants are more intelligent than we believe, insisting that they are also able to make complex decisions.
The result of the finding of the research conducted by scientists at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the University of Gottingen have concluded from their investigations on Barberry (Berberis vulgaris), indicate that Barberry, who sacrifice their own seeds depending upon its chances of survival in their fight against parasites, have a structural memory, and is able to differentiate between inner and outer conditions as well as anticipate future risks.
Approximately 2000 berries were collected during this study from different regions of Germany, examined for signs of piercing and then cut open to examine any infestation by the larvae of the tephritid fruit fly (Rhagoletis meigenii).
The European barberry or simply Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) is a species of shrub distributed throughout Europe. It is related to the Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) that is native to North America and that has been spreading through Europe for years.
Scientists compared both species to find a marked difference in parasite infestation.
This led scientists to examine the seeds of the Barberry more closely. Approximately 2000 berries were collected from different regions of Germany, examined for signs of piercing and then cut open to examine any infestation by the larvae of the tephritid fruit fly (Rhagoletis meigenii).
This parasite punctures the berries in order to lay its eggs inside them. If the larva is able to develop, it will often feed on all of the seeds in the berry. A special characteristic of the Barberry is that each berry usually has two seeds and that the plant is able to stop the development of its seeds in order to save its resources.
This mechanism is also employed to defend it from the tephritid fruit fly. If a seed is infested with the parasite, later on the developing larva will feed on both seeds. If however the plant aborts the infested seed, then the parasite in that seed will also die and the second seed in the berry is saved.
The study has been published in the journal American Naturalist.
(Posted on 05-03-2014)