Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Behavior breakthrough: Like animals, plants demonstrate complex ability to integrate information

Date:
June 25, 2010
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
Scientists have discovered that a plant's strategy to capture nutrients in the soil is the result of integration of different types of information. They found plants also have the ability to integrate information about the location of both food and competitors. As a result, plants demonstrate unique behavioral strategies to capture soil resources.

Plants have the ability to integrate information about the location of both food and competitors. As a result, plants demonstrate unique behavioral strategies to capture soil resources.
Credit: Copyright Michele Hogan

A University of Alberta research team has discovered that a plant's strategy to capture nutrients in the soil is the result of integration of different types of information.

Related Articles


U of A ecologist J.C. Cahill says the plant's strategy mirrors the daily risk-versus-reward dilemmas that animals experience in their quest for food.

Biologists established long ago that an animal uses information about both the location of a food supply and potential competitors to determine an optimal foraging strategy. Its subsequent behavioral response is based on whether the food supply is rich enough to accept the risks associated with engaging in competition with other animals.

Cahill found plants also have the ability to integrate information about the location of both food and competitors. As a result, plants demonstrate unique behavioural strategies to capture soil resources.

Previous studies show plants alter the growth of their roots in relation to the placement of food or a competing plant. Cahill and his colleagues now show an integration of both location and competition information in plants. "This ability to integrate information is a level of complexity never seen in plants before," said Cahill. "This is something we assumed only happened with animals."

Using a mini-rhizotron camera, referred to by Cahill's team as a "camera on a stick," the researchers compared the root movement of potted plants in relation to various positions of nutrients and competing plants.

The roots of one plant in a pot where nutrients were evenly distributed occupied the entire breadth of the soil.

When two plants occupied a single pot and the nutrients were evenly distributed, the roots stopped growing laterally towards each other. There was complete segregation of the root systems; the plants avoided contact with one another. Cahill says in terms of risk versus reward, the plants avoided each other because the rewards were low.

But when nutrients were placed between two plants sharing a single pot, both plants grew their roots much closer towards each other. Cahill says in this case the rewards were high, and the plants risked increased competition.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. James F. Cahill, Jr., Gordon G. McNickle, Joshua J. Haag, Eric G. Lamb, Samson M. Nyanumba, and Colleen Cassady St. Clair. Plants Integrate Information About Nutrients and Neighbors. Science, 25 June 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5986, p. 1657 DOI: 10.1126/science.1189736

Cite This Page:

University of Alberta. "Behavior breakthrough: Like animals, plants demonstrate complex ability to integrate information." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100624144057.htm>.
University of Alberta. (2010, June 25). Behavior breakthrough: Like animals, plants demonstrate complex ability to integrate information. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100624144057.htm
University of Alberta. "Behavior breakthrough: Like animals, plants demonstrate complex ability to integrate information." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100624144057.htm (accessed March 27, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, March 27, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

Raw: Lioness Has Rare Five-Cub Litter

AP (Mar. 27, 2015) — A lioness in Pakistan has given birth to five cubs, twice the usual size of a litter. Queen gave birth to two other cubs just nine months ago. (March 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Bear Cubs Tumble for the Media

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) — Two Andean bear cubs are unveiled at the U.S. National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Alicia Powell reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) — Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins