Target: Dr. Daniel Chamovitz, author of What a Plant Knows
Goal: Commend Daniel Chamovitz for his research on plant senses
What do a Bengali scientist named Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose from the Victorian era, Charles Darwin, CIA operatives, and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard have in common? At one point all of them researched how plants interact with their environment. While this isn’t a field that is taken too seriously at this point, it is interesting to note what results plant sensing experiments may yield.
Scientist Daniel Chamovitz began his research in the mid-1990s, to determine how plants sense light to determine their development. He found a group of genes that a plant uses to determine whether it’s in the light or the dark, and then much to his amazement, he discovered that animals use that same group of genes for the same purpose.
He later found that plants are able to interact with each other in a variety of ways. For instance, an unripe plant will pick up on ripening hormones released by a ripe plant, causing the unripe plant to grow faster. If a maple tree is attacked by bugs, it releases a pheromone into the air that is picked up by nearby trees. The nearby trees will then make chemicals to help the tree fight off the attack. If there is a drought, trees can signal the lack of water to other trees through their roots.
Plants don’t have a nervous system, so it is believed that they don’t think on a conscious level or feel pain. But the way plants interact with their environment is fascinating, and very little is known about it still. It’s good that someone is interested in doing the research. Commend Daniel Chamovitz for his research on plant senses.
Dear Dr. Chamovitz,
We are glad to see someone doing research about plant senses. That kind of outside-the-box thinking is always refreshing, and there’s no way of knowing just yet what kind of results such research may yield. For instance, you said in Scientific American that you were surprised that animals use the same genes plants do to determine whether they are in the light or the dark. It’s not surprising to us that your research on the COP9 Signalosome protein, involved in plant and animal development, has led to the study of that same protein’s possible involvement in cancer.
On a less technical note, we’re also glad that you’ve helped us to appreciate the world around us more. Thank you for your insights, and your devotion to an unusual field.
[Your Name Here]