Friday, March 8, 2013

Do Plants Think?: Scientific American

Do Plants Think?: Scientific American

My interest in the parallels between plant and human senses got their start when I was a young postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Xing-Wang Deng at Yale University in the mid 1990s. I was interested in studying a biological process that would be specific to plants, and would not be connected to human biology (probably as a response to the six other “doctors” in my family, all of whom are physicians). So I was drawn to the question of how plants sense light to regulate their development.
It had been known for decades that plants use light not only for photosynthesis, but also as a signal that changes the way plants grow. In my research I discovered a unique group of genes necessary for a plant to determine if it’s in the light or in the dark. When we reported our findings, it appeared these genes were unique to the plant kingdom, which fit well with my desire to avoid any thing touching on human biology. But much to my surprise and against all of my plans, I later discovered that this same group of genes is also part of the human DNA.
This led to the obvious question as to what these seemingly “plant-specific” genes do in people.  Many years later, we now know that these same genes are important in animals for the timing of cell division, the axonal growth of neurons, and the proper functioning of the immune system.

Plants have a B root and iv branch structure like nerves in a Roy animal, their impulses in this structure are similar then to impulses down actual nerves. In the same way a root and branch structure in computer networks and software has a similar thought process of growing chaotically and collapsing.

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