JULY 2010

STEFANO MANCUSO

Stefano Mancuso The roots of plant intelligence
意大利植物学家Stefano Mancuso,植物神经生物学的创始人之一。

斯特凡诺曼库索de首页:www.linv.org

About this talk

Plants behave in some oddly intelligent ways: fighting predators, maximizing food opportunities … But can we think of them as actually having a form of intelligence of their own? Italian botanist Stefano Mancuso presents intriguing evidence.

About Stefano Mancuso

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… Full bio and more links
Why you should listen to him:

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.

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.

“To christen the lab in 2004, Mancuso decided to use the controversial term ‘plant neurobiology’ to reinforce the idea that plants have biochemistry, cell biology and electrophysiology similar to the human nervous system.”

Nicole Martinelli, Wired.com

关于这场演讲

植物有一些超奇特且具智慧的行为?与天敌抗争,使获取食物的机会最大化…但我们可以就此认为它们确实拥有独立的智慧形式吗义大利植物学家斯特凡诺曼库索提出了耐人寻味的证据。

关于斯特凡诺曼库索

斯特凡诺曼库索是植物神经生物学研究的创始者,这门学问是从遗传学到分子,细胞和生态群落各方面,探讨各层级生物组织中的信号和通讯。

为什么要听他演讲

你每天早晨尽心喷水的波士顿肾蕨是否感激你的照料?或你家附近公园中枝繁叶茂的橡树会因为孩子爬在它多节的枝干上而感到不快吗?义大利研究员斯特凡曼库索说,不太可能,但这并不意味着,同样这类生物有机体无法进行令人不可思议的精巧及动态形式的感知和通讯。

曼库索在位于佛罗伦斯附近的实验室和他的团队探索植物如何通讯,或彼此发射“信号”。植物使用复杂的内部分析系统,用以找寻营养物质,传播物种,甚至保卫自己以对抗天敌。他们的研究进一步把我们视植物为简单有机体的观点,转变成将其视为复杂的生态结构和群落。植物可以收集,处理信息,最不可思议的是,它们可以彼此分享重要信息。

“为了命名实验室,曼库索于2004年决定使用具争议性的术语『植物神经生物学』,以强调植物拥有类似人类神经系统的生物化学,细胞生物学和电生理学这个概念。”

——妮可·马蒂内利Wired.com

斯特凡诺曼库索-谈植物根部的智慧 文字版

不久前我翻了一本很旧的杂志,发现这个关于诺亚方舟故事的观察检视。绘制这个观察检视的艺术家犯了一些谬误,其中有差不多有12个错误之处。有些错误是显而易见的,像是烟囱,天线,灯,以及方舟上的发条装置,一些是关于动物以及数量但在整个方舟故事中,有个相当根本性的错误未被提及问题在于:。。?植物在哪现在,我们的上帝将使地球永远被淹没,或至少淹没很长一段时间,而没人关心植物的问题。诺亚需要将毎种鸟类,每种动物,以及每种会动的生物都带上一对,但没有提到关于植物的部分。为什么?同样在这个故事的另一部分,所有从方舟上出来的只有生物,像是鸟类,牲畜和野生动物,植物不在这些生物当中,这就是重点。这个问题并非来自于圣经,而是某种一直伴随着人类的东西。

我们来看看这部很棒的法典,这是来自于文艺复兴时期的书。我们可以看到这个自然界层级的图。这是一个不错的图,因为从左边开始是石头,石头之后随之就是植物,它们只是能活着,我们动物则能够存活和感觉在金字塔顶端的是人类,不是一般的人类,是“智人”,有学习能力的人对像我这样的人来说,这。。相当令人欣慰。我是一个教授,在天地万物的顶端,但这是完全错误的看法。你们对教授所知甚详,但对植物的看法也是错的。因为植物不仅能够生存,也能够感觉。它们的感觉比动物精密得多,给你们看个例子。每一个根尖,都能同时且持续的侦测和监测至少15种不同的化学和物理参数,它们还能够显示和展示出这样神奇。和复杂的行为,可用聪明绝顶这个字眼来形容嗯,但这是某种 – 这种对植物的低估,是一直伴随着我们的观念。

我们来看这短短的影片可以看到大卫阿滕伯勒,大卫阿滕伯勒是一个真正的植物爱好者,他拍摄了一些关于植物行为最美丽的影片当他谈到植物,一切都是正确的;。当他谈到动物,往往会忽略植物存在这个事实。蓝鲸是地球上最大的动物,这是不对的,大错特错。如果相较于正牌的,存在于地球上最大的生物,蓝鲸根本是一个侏儒。它就是这个奇妙,宏伟的巨杉。(掌声)这是一个活的有机体,至少有2000吨重。这个说法,说植物是某种低层级的有机体,已在很久以前,在“论灵魂“一书中被亚里斯多德形式化了。这是一本对西方文明非常有影响力的书,书中写道,植物是介于生物和非生物临界点之间的物种,它们只是一种非常低层级的灵魂,称之为植物性灵魂。因为它们不会运动,所以它们不需要感觉。我们来看看。

好吧,有些植物的运动是众所周知的,这是一个非常快速的运动这是一株Dionaea,即捕蝇草,正狩猎着蜗牛。。可怜的蜗牛这是几世纪以来一直被拒绝承认的现象,尽管证据就在眼前。没人会说植物能够吃掉动物,因为这是违反自然层级的。但植物也能展现出很多运动情形。有些是众所周知的,像开花,这只不过是使用一些技巧的问题,如慢速拍摄。其中有些运动则复杂得多。看看这个小豆苗,总是在移动以捕捉光线,真是非常优雅,就像一个跳着舞的天使。它们还能够玩耍,它们真的是在玩耍。这些是向日葵幼苗,它们正在做什么?除了玩耍这个字眼以外,很难有更好的形容了。它们正在自我训练,像许多年幼动物一样,为成年生活而训练,它们接收到追踪太阳的指示,整天均是如此。当然,它们能对重力做出反应,所以嫩芽对抗重力向量生长,根则是顺着重力向量生长。但它也能睡觉。这是一株含羞草,在夜间,它们将叶子蜷曲起来并减少运动。在白天,它们的叶子就会开放,并有更大程度的运动。这是有趣的,因为这个睡眠机制是完美守恒的。在植物,昆虫身上。相同,在动物身上也是所以,如果你需要研究这个睡眠问题,与动物相比较的话,对植物进行研究很容易,甚至在道德上来说也容易多了,这是一种素食实验。

植物甚至可以通讯,它们是卓越的通讯者,与其他植物通讯,能够区分同类和非同类它们与植物和其他物种通讯,也藉由产生挥发性化学物质与动物通讯例如在进行授粉作用时。。 。谈到授粉,其对植物来说是一件非常重要的事,因为它们需将花粉从一朵花移到另一朵花,但它们无法从一朵花移动到另一朵花,因此需要一个媒介。这个媒介通常是动物,许多昆虫被植物当作媒介,作为授粉的运输工具。但不只是昆虫,甚至鸟类,爬行动物,还有像老鼠,蝙蝠等哺乳动物,都常用于花粉的传播,这是一件重要的事植物给予动物一种甜性物质,非常有激发效果,来交换这种花粉的传播但有些植物可以操纵动物,如兰花。。承诺给予性和花蜜,事实上却没有交换任何东西,即达成花粉的传播。

现在,在这一切我们所目睹的行为背后,有个很大的疑问;?。没有大脑怎么可能做到这一切直到1880年,这个伟大的人 – 查尔斯达尔文出版了一本精彩且惊人的书,开启了一场革命,书名是“植物运动的力量。”在达尔文之前,没有任何人能够谈论植物的运动。他的书由儿子佛朗西斯协助,他是世上第一个植物生理学教授,任教于剑桥。他们在长达500页的篇幅中讨论植物每一个动作。书中最后一章,这是一种标志性的文章格式,因为达尔文通常在书中最后一章放上最重要的信息。他写道, “这么说毫不夸张。胚根尖端作用就像一个低层级动物的大脑。”这不是比喻,他写了一些非常有趣的信给​​他一位朋友虎克,他是当时英国皇家学会主席因此,英国最高科学权威谈论了植物的大脑。

这是一个在斜坡上逆向生长的根尖,你可以辨认出这种运动,跟虫,蛇同样的动作,也和每一种在地面上移动的无脚动物显现出的相同这不是个容易的。动作,因为要做到这种运动,必须在没有大脑的情况下移动根的不同区域,并使这些不同区域同步动作。因此我们研究了根尖。我们发现有一个特定区域,就是这里,涂成蓝色的区域,我们称它为过渡地带。这个区域是个非常小的区域,不到一毫米。在这个小区域中,消耗了最高量的植物中氧气,更重要的是会产生这种信号。这里所看到的信号是行动位能,这个信号相同于我大脑中的神经元,我们大脑用它来交换信息。现在我们知道,一个根尖只有几百个细胞能显现出这种功能,但我们知道一个小植物的根尖有多大。像黑麦,几乎有1400万条根,1150万个根尖,总长度为600公里以上,还有非常大的表面积。

我们想像一下,每单一根尖在一个网路中与所有其他根尖一起合作。左图是网际网路,右图是根的组织,它们以同样方式运作,它们是一个在网路中运作的小计算机网路它们为什么如此相似因为它们进化有着相同的原因为了生存捕食,它们以同样方式运作所以你可以移除百分之九十的根组织,这株植物会继续运作。?。。你可以移除百分之九十的网际网路,它依然可以继续运作。因此,给网路工作者一个建议,关于如何发展网路,植物能够给你很好的建议。

另一种是技术上的可能性。让我们想像,我们可以建造灵感来自于植物的机器人。针对生产机器人方面来看,到目前为止,人的灵感只来自于人或动物。我们有仿动物机器人(animaloid),一般机器人的灵感来自于动物,昆虫等。我们有仿生机器人(机器人),是以人为灵感。但为什么我们没有仿植物机器人(plantoid)?嗯,如果你想飞,观察鸟类很有用,以鸟类为灵感。但如果你想探索土壤,或者如果你想开拓新领土,你能做到最好的就是以植物为灵感,它们在这方面是专家。还有另一种可能性正在我们实验室进行,就是制造半机器。这样制造半机器容易多了。半机器意味着某种东西,一半是生物,另一半是机器,与动物相较之下,用植物来做容易多了它们有计算机的能力,有电子信号,与机器间的连接更加容易,甚至可能道德得多这是我们正努力进行中的三种可能性。。制造由藻类驱动,或最终由叶子,由植物最强大的部分,即根驱动的半机器。

嗯,谢谢你们认真听我演讲,在结束之前,我保证在这次演示中没有蜗牛受到伤害。

谢谢。

Transcript

Sometimes I go browsing [through] a very old magazine. I found this observation test about the story of the ark. And the artist that drew this observation test did some errors, had some mistakes. There are more or less 12 mistakes. Some of them are very easy. There is a funnel, an aerial part, a lamp and clockwork key on the ark. Some of them are about the animals, the number. But there is a much fundamental mistake in the overall story of the ark that’s not reported here. And this problem is: where are the plants? So now we have God that is going to submerge Earth permanently, or at least for a very long period, and no one is taking care of plants. Noah needed to take two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal, of every kind of creature that moves, but no mention about plants. Why? In another part of the same story, all the living creatures are just the living creatures that came out from the ark, so birds, livestock and wild animals. Plants are not living creatures. This is the point. That is a point that is not coming out from the Bible, but it’s something that has always accompanied humanity.

Let’s have a look at this nice code that is coming from a Renaissance book. Here we have the description of the order of nature. It’s a nice description because it’s starting from left — you have the stones — immediately after the stones, the plants that are just able to live. We have the animals that are able to live and to sense, and, on the top of the pyramid, there is the man. This is not the common man. The “Homo studiosus” — the studying man. This is quite comforting for people like me — I’m a professor — this to be over there on the top of creation. But it’s something completely wrong. You know very well about professors. But it’s also wrong about plants, because plants are not just able to live; they are able to sense. They are much more sophisticated in sensing than animals. Just to give you an example, every single root apex is able to detect and to monitor concurrently and continuously at least 15 different chemical and physical parameters. And they also are able to show and to exhibit such a wonderful and complex behavior that can be described just with the term of intelligence. Well, but this is something — this underestimation of plants is something that is always with us.

Let’s have a look at this short movie now. We have David Attenborough. David Attenborough is really a plant lover. He did some of the most beautiful movies about plant behavior. Now, when he speaks about plants, everything is correct. When he speaks about animals, [he] tends to remove the fact that plants exist. The blue whale, the biggest creature that exists on the planet. That is wrong, completely wrong. The blue whale, it’s a dwarf if compared with the real biggest creature that exists on the planet — that is, this wonderful, magnificent Sequoiadendron giganteum. (Applause) And this is a living organism that has a mass of at least 2,000 tons. Now, the story that plants are some low-level organisms has been formalized many times ago by Aristotle, that in “De Anima” — that is a very influential book for Western civilization — wrote that the plants are on the edge between living and not living. They have just a kind of very low-level soul. It’s called the vegetative soul, because they lack movement, and so they don’t need to sense. Let’s see.

Okay, some of the movements of the plants are very well-known. This is a very fast movement. This is a Dionaea, a Venus fly trap hunting snails. Sorry for the snail. This has been something that has been refused for centuries, despite the evidence. No one could say that the plants were able to eat an animal, because it was against the order of nature. But plants are also able to show a lot of movement. Some of them are very well known, like the flowering. It’s just a question to use some techniques like the time lapse. Some of them are much more sophisticated. Look at this young bean that is moving to catch the light every time. And it’s really so graceful. It’s like a dancing angel. They are also able to play. They are really playing. These are young sunflowers, and what they are doing cannot be described with any other terms than playing. They are training themselves, as many young animals do, to the adult life, where they will be called to track the sun all the day. They are able to respond to gravity, of course, so the shoots are growing against the vector of gravity and the roots toward the vector of gravity. But they are also able to sleep. This is one Mimosa pudica. So during the night, they curl the leaves and reduce the movement, and during the day, you have the opening of the leaves — there is much more movement. This is interesting because, this sleeping machinery, it’s perfectly conserved. It’s the same in plants, in insects and in animals. And so if you need to study this sleeping problem, it’s easy to study on plants, for example, than in animals, and it’s much more easy even ethically. It’s a kind of vegetarian experimentation.

Plants are even able to communicate. They are extraordinary communicators. They communicate with other plants. They are able to distinguish kin and non-kin. They communicate with plants and other species, and they communicate with animals by producing chemical volatiles, for example, during the pollination. Now with the pollination, it’s a very serious issue for plants, because they move the pollen from one flower to the other, yet they can not move from one flower to the other. So they need a vector, and this vector, it’s normally an animal. Many insects have been used by plants as vectors for the transport of the pollination, but not just insects; even birds, reptiles, and mammals like bats rats are normally used for the transportation of the pollen. This is a serious business. We have the plants that are giving to the animals a kind of sweet substance — very energizing — having in change this transportation of the pollen. But some plants are manipulating animals, like in the case of orchids that promise sex and nectar and give in change nothing for the transportation of the pollen.

Now, there is a big problem behind all this behavior that we have seen. How is it possible to do this without a brain? We need to wait until 1880, when this big man, Charles Darwin, publishes a wonderful, astonishing book that starts a revolution. The title is “The Power of Movement in Plants.” No one was allowed to speak about movement in plants before Charles Darwin. In his book, assisted by his son, Francis — who was the first professor of plant physiology in the world, in Cambridge — they took into consideration every single movement for 500 pages. And in the last paragraph of the book, it’s a kind of stylistic mark, because normally Charles Darwin stored, in the last paragraph of a book, the most important message. He wrote that, “It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that the tip of the radicle acts like the brain of one of the lower animals.” This is not a metaphor. He wrote some very interesting letters to one of his friends who was J.D. Hooker, or, at that time, president of the Royal Society, so the maximum scientific authority in Britain speaking about the brain in the plants.

Now, this is a root apex growing against a slope. So you can recognize this kind of movement, the same movement that worms, snakes and every animal that [is] moving on the ground without legs is able to display. And it’s not an easy movement, because, to have this kind of movement, you need to move different regions of the root and to synchronize these different regions without having a brain. So we studied the root apex, and we found that there is a specific region that is here, depicted in blue — let’s call it a transition zone. And this region, it’s a very small region. It’s less than one millimeter. And in this small region you have the highest consumption of oxygen in the plants, and more important, you have these kinds of signals here. The signals that you are seeing here are action potential, are the same signals that the neurons of my brain, of our brain, use to exchange information. Now we know that a root apex has just a few hundred cells that show this kind of feature, but we know how big the root apex of a small plant [is], like a plant of rye. We have almost 14 million roots. We have 11 and a half million root apex and a total length of 600 or more kilometers and a very high surface area.

Now let’s imagine that each single root apex is working in network with all the others. Here were have, on the left, the internet and on the right, the root apparatus. They work in the same way. They are a network of small computing machines, working in networks. And why are they so similar? Because they evolved for the same reason: to survive predation. They work in the same way. So you can remove 90 percent of the root apparatus and the plants [continue] to work. You can remove 90 percent of the Internet and it is [continuing] to work. So, a suggestion for the people working with networks: plants are able to give you good suggestions about how to evolve networks.

And another possibility is a technological possibility. Let’s imagine that we can build robots and robots that are inspired by plants. Until now, Man was inspired just by Man or the animals in producing a robot. We have the animaloid — the normal robots inspired by animals, insectoid, so on. We have the androids that are inspired by Man. But why have we not any plantoid? Well, if you want to fly, it’s good that you look at birds, to be inspired by birds. But if you want to explore soils, or if you want to colonize new territory, to best thing that you can do is to be inspired by plants that are masters in doing this. We have another possibility we are working [on] in our lab, [which] is to build hybrids. It’s much more easy to build hybrids. Hybrid means it’s something that’s half living and half machine. It’s much more easy to work with plants than with animals. They have computing power. They have electrical signals. The connection with the machine is much more easy, much more even ethically possible. And these are three possibilities that we are working on to build hybrids, driven by algae or by the leaves at the end, by the most most powerful parts of the plants, by the roots.

Well, thank you for your attention. And before I finish, I would like to reassure that no snails were harmed in making this presentation. Thank you.

(Applause)