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Sunday, 7 September 2008

The secret social life of plants. The world we still don't understand.

I found this one in a psychic newsletter. However, yesterday, I was thinking on something. Humans have adapted senses that are useful for our survival. As well as all the animals, of course. The point is, that those sense are not so obvious in space. For example, we have only one sense that captures EM radiation-the eyes and probably the skin to the UV light. True, the eyes are "guilty" for probably 80% of the information we use, but they would be completely meaningless without our other senses-the nose (allows us to have a clue of the substance of the thing we see), the ears (allow us to distinguish what the object we see is doing and also to tell the distance to a noisy thing when we don't see it) and skin (the thing that allows us to know the external structure of a thing and as well as it's temperature). I don't include the taste since it's more or less internal sensation and has no relevance to the discussion (or not so much). Notice that although you perceive 80-90% of your daily life thanks to your eyes, you form the ideas of what you see mostly thanks to the rest of your senses. If you can't understand that, imagine what it would be to cook, without the sense of touch. Or to eat without being able to smell or taste. You will see the stuff, you'll know what you can do with them, but they would be just images-probably like in a computer game.
Anyway, my point is another. We have evolved senses that helps us feel better our local reality. And only one of those organs is using directly the EM waves that are dominant in Universe. All the rest have twisted perception of EM if any. They just use another mechanisms to provide us information of the surrounding world that is more useful.
And I was thinking, what about the trees. They are immobile, but they live entirely on EM waves-light. They're all life is revolving around making use of the light. What if they have evolved other mechanisms to interact with the environment that have nothing to do with us, since we live practically in another world compared to plants. What if they can "taste" light, to tell what kind of a day is on the Sun, how is the Sun wind or whatever. What if they can differ the mineral composition of water in some chemical way. I mean, if you're immobile, you don't need something dramatically quick or obvious-you have nowhere to go anyway. But you still can notice stuff and react to them in your natural manner-slow and mostly unknown to us.

I was thinking even more-how do you interact with a creature that has different needs in this world than ours?! Like one that uses mostly EM waves? Trough light? Not necessarily since that would depend on the part of the EM spectra the creature uses most. So maybe UV? Or IR? I don't know. Just think on it while reading the next article. I didn't check in google the articles it mentioned, but still, I find it fascinating. There is a whole world out there that we're barely starting to understand!

Scientists Discover Plants Can Control Weather

By Rebecca Sato
Daily Galaxy

Gone are the days of believing plants are just passive organisms.

Earlier this year, researchers found that plants can communicate through little understood chemical mechanisms. Now scientists are even saying that plants can do something perhaps even more incredible: Control the weather.

According to researchers at the Scottish Association for Marine Science and the University of Manchester, brown seaweed, kelp, has the ability to create cloudy days at the seaside. But why would plants want to alter weather patterns? Apparently, because cloudy days make the plants more comfortable.

When the sky is overcast kelp are comfortable when the tide goes out, since they are able to stay moist until it comes back. On a bright day however, they dry out. When they start getting dry the plants become stressed and begin releasing iodide. The iodide rises, causing clouds to form overhead, which in turns protects the kelp from unwelcome sunshine.

Kelp plays an important antipollution role in the removal of ozone close to the Earth’s surface. Frithjof Küpper, of the Scottish Association for Marine Science, who led the research, explains that the benefit is mutual. Iodide can neutralize ozone in the atmosphere and, as it rises, “these chemicals act as condensation nuclei around which clouds may form”. Hence we get a healthier atmosphere and the kelp also gets what it wants: Shade.

This discovery reveals just one more fascinating secret of the green kingdom, a kingdom that is just barely beginning to be understood by humans.

How Plants Talk to Each Other

Researcher Josef Stuefer at the Radboud University Nijmegen found that one purpose for plants having their own “chat systems” is to warn each other.

In fact, many plants form internal communications networks and are able to exchange information efficiently. Herbal plants such as strawberry, clover, reed and ground elder naturally form networks. Individual plants remain connected with each other for a certain period of time by means of runners. These connections enable the plants to share information via internal channels in a manner very similar to computer networks.

Stuefer and his colleagues were the first to demonstrate that clover plants do indeed warn each other via these network links if enemies are nearby. For example, if one of the plants is attacked by caterpillars, it will warn the other members of the network via an internal signal. After receiving a warning, the other intact plants will strengthen their protective chemical and mechanical resistance so that they are less attractive for advancing caterpillars. This early warning system allows the plants to stay one step ahead of their enemies. Experimental research has revealed that this communication significantly limits the damage inflicted on the plants.

Plants Recognize Their Family

It is also known that plants have “family values”, with new research revealing they have the ability to recognize close relatives in order to help each other survive. The ability to tell family from strangers is well known in the animal kingdom, which allows us to cooperate and share resources. However, it is a relatively new concept that plants also possess the social skills of being able to recognize and communicate with relatives. Even plants that are not connected seem to have the ability, although scientists still have no clear idea how they do it.

Earlier this year, Susan Dudley and Amanda File of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, demonstrated for the first time that plants can recognize their kin. Their research showed that though lacking cognition and memory, plants are nonetheless capable of relatively complex social interactions.

Their study found plants from the same species of beach-dwelling wildflower, for example, grew aggressively alongside unrelated neighbors but were less competitive when they shared soil with their siblings. Some researchers speculate that plants must communicate through their roots, identifying themselves using tiny chemical signatures specific to each plant's family. But just how the plants determine which of their neighbors are siblings remains a mystery, Dudley admits. While learning and memory are important factors for kin recognition in animals, there obviously has to be an alternative explanation for plant recognition, she noted. source

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