Living In Harmony / 1820 Views

Plants Thrive In A Complex World By Communicating, Sharing Resources And Transforming Their Environments

As a species, humans are wired to collaborate. That’s why lockdowns and remote work have felt difficult for many of us during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For other living organisms, social distancing comes more naturally. I am a plant scientist and have spent years studying how light cues affect plants, from the very beginning of a plant’s life cycle – the germination of seeds – all the way through to leaf drop or death. In my new book, “Lessons from Plants,” I explore what we can learn from the environmental tuning of plant behaviors.

One key takeaway is that plants have the ability to develop interdependence, but also to avoid it when being connected could be damaging. Generally, plants are constantly communicating and engaged with other organisms in their ecosystems. But when these ongoing connections threaten to cause more harm than good, plants can exhibit a form of social distancing.

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