Recent research shows that pea plants are the only vegetables that are able to take any chances by means of adapted responses to their surrounding environment.
Gambling strategies in plants is an entirely new phenomenon. Yet pea plants show this tendency. Researchers have shown that these pod-bearing flora tend to have a certain sensitivity to risk.
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They can thus choose from various scenarios although to a limited extent. Choice has always been seen as something that animals possess. However, in the plant kingdom, this is the first instance of some degree of control being exercised over external circumstances by a species.
The pea plants involved in the study, published in the journal Current Biology, were planted in such a way that their roots were bifurcated between two pots.
This gave them the fair choice of choosing either of the pots for nourishment purposes. The pea plants showed that they had their priorities right.
In previous studies, it had been shown that these pea plants preferred pots with more nutrients and richer soil samples. They responded to such abundance with greater growth in their roots.
It was a similar response as some animals tend to show in case of more food-rich environments. They allocate more foraging strategies to these patches or oases in a wilderness of scarce resources.
Later on these pea plants had their roots divided between two pots. The two pots differed in that one had constant levels of nutrients while the other one had variable levels of nutrients.
It remained to be seen whether the pea plants would choose one or the other of the soil-filled pots. It was predicted that the pea plants would choose the constant level pot when the average nutrient levels were high.
Also it was prognosticated that these pea plants would choose the variable level pot if the nutrient density was low. The latter showed risk prone behavior.
The latter option was a gambler’s luck type of choice. It might work or it might not work depending on the conditions of the environment. The experts found that what they had predicted was exactly how the pea plants responded to the situation.
In normal circumstances they chose to play it safe. Yet when push came to shove (metaphorically speaking) they tried their luck in order to gain the nutrients in a resource-poor environment.
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This is the first time that plants have been shown to employ this strategy of food allocation normally used by animals. Despite the “gambler’s fallacy”, all human beings know that the law of chance is still a constant force in the universe. Thus where there is insecurity in the food supply, something is better than nothing.