Plants and Animals: Convergent Evolution in Action?

  • František Baluska
  • Stefano Mancuso
Part of the Signaling and Communication in Plants book series (SIGCOMM)


It is hardly an exaggeration to say that the tip of the radicle thus endowed [with sensitivity] and having the power of directing the movements of the adjoining parts, acts like the brain of one of the lower animals; the brain being seated within the anterior end of the body, receiving impressions from the sense-organs, and directing the several movements.

—Charles Darwin in The Power of Movement in Plants (1880; John Murray, London, p 573)

The Aristotelian–Linnean heritage of our current sciences is tightly associated with a view of automata-like passive plants lacking active sensory-driven lifestyles. Charles Darwin made the first attempt to escape from this "Aristotelian trap." Although his work on plants stimulated lively research into plant tropisms and hormones, his unconventional view of plants was largely ignored by the mainstream of plant sciences until recently. Darwin witnessed early studies on electrical signaling in plants, including plant action potentials. Nevertheless, this important and well-developed field of plant sciences was almost wiped out following the publication of the controversial book The Secret Life of Plants in the 1970s. The resulting "esoteric stigma" hindered the further development of this branch of plant sciences. Recently, advances in cell and molecular biology as well as in ecology led to the birth of plant neurobiology, which aims to study plants in their full sensory and communicative complexity. New concepts are needed and new questions must be asked in order to advance our still rudimentary understanding of plants.


Root Apex Plant Science Plant Body Polar Auxin Transport Anterior Pole 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität BonnBonnGermany
  2. 2.University of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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