Crop Biotech Update

Study Reveals Plants Learn New Habits, Too

December 14, 2016

An international team of researchers led by Professor Monica Gagliano from The University of Western Australia has shown for the first time that plants learn about their environments by making links between events, an ability previously thought to be exclusive to animals.

Inspired by Pavlov's work with dogs, the team, including researchers from the Universities of Oxford and Zurich, experimented with pea seedlings, placing them in a Y-shaped maze to see how they responded after initially being exposed to light from a particular direction. The seedlings learned and chose the best growth direction for survival by correctly predicting the occurrence of light once it was removed.

Professor Gagliano said, "Because our findings are unexpected, we anticipate that this study will stir a lively and exciting debate on the origin and properties of memory, learning and ultimately intelligent behavior in biological systems."

For more details, read the news release at the University of Western Australia website.