Could plants be self-aware ? Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Angelynn
For years, scientists have clashed over whether or not plants possess a form of conscious awareness.
There are two main camps when it comes to the debate over plant consciousness - one which asserts that plants possess a primitive form of awareness, and another which focuses on the more traditional mindset that plants are simply incapable of such thought processes.
Most recently, scientists from Germany, the UK and the US have come out guns blazing in a renewed effort to dispute the idea that plants and trees are conscious.
"There is no evidence that plants require, and thus have evolved, energy-expensive mental faculties, such as consciousness, feelings, and intentionality, to survive or to reproduce," wrote botanist Lincoln Taiz from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Previous studies have suggested that plants possess brain-like command centers and animal-like nervous systems that afford them a basic form of awareness.
"Our criticism of the plant neurobiologists is they have failed to consider the importance of brain organisation, complexity and specialisation for the phenomenon of consciousness," said Taiz.
Those on the opposite side of the fence meanwhile remain convinced that the idea has merit.
"For me, the process of generating knowledge through rigorous science is about understanding the evidence base behind a claim," said Monica Gagliano from the University of Sydney.
"Where is their experimental data? Or are we expected to just accept their claim at face value?"
Suffice to say, the debate over plant consciousness is far from over.