Pre thinking

Does the Boston fern you’re dutifully misting each morning appreciate your care? Or can the spreading oak in your local park take umbrage at the kids climbing its knotted branches? Not likely, says Italian researcher Stefano Mancuso, but that doesn’t mean that these same living organisms aren’t capable of incredibly sophisticated and dynamic forms of awareness and communication.

Who is he        

Stefano Mancuso is a founder of the study of plant neurobiology, which explores signaling and communication at all levels of biological organization, from genetics to molecules, cells and ecological communities.

Why should you listen

From his laboratory near Florence, Mancuso and his team explore how plants communicate, or “signal,” with each other, using a complex internal analysis system to find nutrients, spread their species and even defend themselves against predators. Their research continues to transform our view of plants from simple organisms to complex ecological structures and communities that can gather, process and — most incredibly — share important information.

Discussion questions

  1. What point was Stefano trying to make with the story about the ark?
  2. Aristotle wrote,in “De Anima” that  plants are on the edgebetween living and not living.They have just a kind of very low-level soul. Cite the evidence that Mancuso presents to refute this.
  3. How do plants communicate with one another?
  4. Is the transition zone similar to the brain? In what way?
  5. How can his work with plants help our understanding of human development and cognition?

The roots of plant intelligence with Stefano Mancuso


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