Intelligence is defined for wild plants and its role in fitness identified. Intelligent behaviour exhibited by single cells and systems similarity between the interactome and connectome indicates neural systems are not necessary for intelligent capabilities. Plants sense and respond to many environmental signals that are assessed to competitively optimize acquisition of patchily distributed resources. Situations of choice engender motivational states in goal-directed plant behaviour; consequent intelligent decisions enable efficient gain of energy over expenditure. Comparison of swarm intelligence and plant behaviour indicates the origins of plant intelligence lie in complex communication and is exemplified by cambial control of branch function. Error correction in behaviours indicates both awareness and intention as does the ability to count to five. Volatile organic compounds are used as signals in numerous plant interactions. Being complex in composition and often species and individual specific, they may represent the plant language and account for self and alien recognition between individual plants. Game theory has been used to understand competitive and cooperative interactions between plants and microbes. Some unexpected cooperative behaviour between individuals and potential aliens has emerged. Behaviour profiting from experience, another simple definition of intelligence, requires both learning and memory and is indicated in the priming of herbivory, disease and abiotic stresses.
One contribution of 12 to a theme issue ‘Convergent minds: the evolution of cognitive complexity in nature’.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
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