Plant Tropisms as a Window on Plant Computational Processes
Plants survive in a harsh and fluctuating environment, optimising their search for fluctuating nutrients, and predicting danger. They achieve this through complex response processes, such as decision-making, based on memory, or the capability to accumulate and compare past stimuli. For example, a plant shoot accumulates sensory information from various fluctuating light sources, decides which direction yields consistently most light for photosynthesis, and grows in that direction. Here we propose a reverse-engineering approach to investigating the underlying rules for the accumulation and integration of sensory inputs. Our theoretical model, based on response theory, predicts that plants respond to the sum of stimuli at short timescales, and to the difference in stimuli at longer timescales. We confirm this experimentally, and suggest that this process may be essential for navigational problem-solving capabilites of plants.
I will also briefly talk about the role of art in science, giving two particular examples of collaborations with artist Liat Segal: “Tropism” and “Impossible Object”
This is a weekly series of webinars on theoretical aspects of Condensed Matter, Biological, and Statistical Physics. It is open to anyone interested in research in these areas..