Dr Stuart Thompson, Senior Lecturer in Plant Biochemistry, wrote an article for The Conversation discussing the ongoing debate about whether plants could have intelligence or consciousness. The article was republished by Metro, Yahoo News and Phys.org.
In his article, Dr Stuart Thompson spoke about a recent paper that dismissed the idea of plants having consciousness completely by arguing that key physical features in conscious beings like animals are missing in plants.
Dr Thompson questioned whether assuming all intelligence has to look like ours will limit what we could discover about how plants work. He said: “Plants may have very different physical systems to us, yet they do respond to their environment and use a sophisticated signalling network to coordinate the way all of different parts of the plant work together.
“This even extends to other organisms that plants cooperate with, such as fungi. There’s even an argument that such a system could lead to a form of consciousness.”
He also discusses the notion of decentralised consciousness in plants. He said: “…What if consciousness can spontaneously emerge from webs of interactions in complex systems? This is speculative but we have seen that plants can use intricate networks of signals to collect and relay information.”