Analysis Of What Plants Talk About By Dr. Cahill

2008 Words 9 Pages
The film, What Plants Talk About, starts out with a researcher from the University of Alberta, Dr. James Cahill. He is an Experimental Plant Ecologist trying to find the answer to the question: Do plants behave like animals? Throughout the film, Dr. Cahill observes the research of other scientists who are experimenting with their questions as well. Cahill compares plant behavior to animal behavior. All plants, as well as animals, are complex and have complex feeding behaviors. Every plant on earth is on the constant hunt for food and nutrients—just like animals. To test his theory, Dr. Cahill and his student Pamela at University of Alberta use high tech, time lapse cameras that help to see how plant roots forage for nutrients. The research …show more content…
Ragan Callaway, a professor of Plant Ecology at the University of Montana, researched if plants compete over food and land, like animals. In Montana, spotted knapweed, a weed from Europe, is killing off the native grasses that local cattle love to eat. This destroys farmers’ and ranchers’ livelihoods by not allowing feed to be available for their cattle. There’s a territorial battle that goes on underground between plants and the knapweed. So, how can the ranchers fix this problem? It turns out that sheep are happy to eat knapweed, unlike the cattle. But this still doesn’t solve the knapweed problem, considering that the weed has invaded four and a half million acres of Montana’s rangeland. Dr. Callaway worked to study how the knapweed wages war against the native plants. Knapweed gives off toxic chemicals in its roots that kill off a lot of native grasses at their core roots, which allows knapweed to take over the rangeland. To test the lethalness of the chemicals that knapweed produces, Dr. Callaway planted native grass alone in pots and others in pots of knapweed. The lone grass was healthy and growing perfectly well, but the grass growing with knapweed was half its size. The plant Lupin is Montana native that can fight off knapweed. Lupin gives off a chemical, which acts as a defensive shield to defend itself and the plants around it. Scientists ask, “what does this complex behavior teach us about plants?” I think that this territorial behavior can be related back to …show more content…
Susan Dudley, a Plant Evolutionary Ecologist at McMaster University, devotes her research to finding out what other forms of social interaction are at play in the plant world, such as kin recognition. Animals are able to use kin recognition to avoid mating with their relatives. Plants too have a kind of kin recognition because they somehow avoid mating with themselves. Plants can also sense other plants by using photo or light receptors in their leaves. On the shores of Lake Ontario, Dr. Dudley and student Amanda studied searocket plants for root kin recognition. Their mission was to find out if roots behave differently when growing next to their kin. Searocket produces 2 sea pods, one which clings to its mother which results in the plants growing up side by side. Dr. Dudley and Amanda planted some searockets together and others with unrelated plants. After a few weeks, the research team examined the roots. The searocket siblings growing together restrained their root growth and selflessly shared the soil. The searockets and the stranger’s roots competed against each other. But, how did the searockets identify their kin, perhaps by using chemical signals? To find answers, Dr. Dudley and her research team conducted a second experiment using Arabidopsis as the plant research subject. They placed two Arabidopsis siblings in water, but blocked off their ability to produce chemical signals. The seedlings ramped up root growth and began competing against each other as if they

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