Ever wondered if trees feel pain when you pluck a leaf? Here’s the answer

Have you have ever wondered if trees can think, learn, or feel pain or loneliness? A new study has the answer to it — No!

The results of the study were published in the journal of ‘Trends in Plant Science,’ which were drawn from an analysis made on previous research done by Todd Feinberg and Jon Mallatt.

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It explored the evolution of consciousness through comparative studies of simple and complex animal brains, whose brains develop differently.

“Feinberg and Mallatt concluded that only vertebrates, arthropods, and cephalopods possess the threshold brain structure for consciousness,” said Lincoln Taiz, Professor Emeritus of molecular, cell, and developmental biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Taiz added: “And if there are animals that don’t have consciousness, then you can be pretty confident that plants, which don’t even have neurons, let alone brains, don’t have it either.”

“What we’ve seen is that plants and animals evolved very different life strategies. The brain is a very expensive organ, and there’s absolutely no advantage to the plant to have a highly developed nervous system,” Taiz said.

The Feinberg-Mallatt model of consciousness further describes a specific level of organisational complexity of the brain that is required for subjective experience.

Plants have shown the use of electrical signals in two ways: one regulates the distribution of charged molecules across membranes while the second to send long-distance messages across the organism.

In the former, a plant’s leaves might curl up as the movement of ions sends water out of the cells, which changes their shape.

In the latter way, an insect bite on one leaf might initiate defense responses of distant leaves.

Both actions can appear like a plant is choosing to react to a stimulus, but researchers emphasised that these responses are genetically encoded and have been fine-tuned through generations of natural selection.

Thus, plants do react to stimuli but that is genetically encoded and not momentarily!

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