Plant learnography deals with learning mechanism of herbs, shrubs and trees about modification and adaptation

Plants and animals are the two basic kingdoms of living things. Animals show learning behaviour in their surroundings and survive with proper food and shelter. Learning mechanism is found advanced in higher vertebrates and they have specific organ called brain for learning, thinking and working. Plants do not have such specialized part like brain but they also learn about nutrients, pollination, temperature, light and other necessary things in the environment.

We can observe plant succession in barren land or meadow that small grass appears first on the surface of soil during rainy season. Many insects such as ants and grasshoppers make houses in the ecosystem of grassland. After some years, shrubs and trees grow to create the environment of forest ecosystem. Plants know the objects and factors of surroundings to maintain the life processes of growth and multiplication. The learning mechanism of these herbs, shrubs and trees is known as plant learnography.

It is amazing that mango trees in tropical region detect the arrival of spring season and produce the panicles of flowers for pollination and fruits. The tree collects information about the factors of environment to decide more or less flowers on the branches. Plants use this information to update their behaviour in order to survive present and future challenges of their environment. The panicles of flowers reflect beautiful and attractive views to the nature and pleasant fragrance is spread in atmosphere with charming sensations.

Mango trees are intelligent to detect the fear factors of survival. Branches are cut down after fruiting seasons to produce more new buds for next season. They respond very well to the pruning of old branches. Terminal flowers are grown at the tip of a branch, so more branches have the chance of better fruits for the purpose of survival and seed dispersal. Farmers usually encourage the lateral branching of mango trees with tip pruning.

Mango tree is well-known for sweet and tasty fruits, usually yellow color in ripening stage. Mangifera indica is the botanical name of mango plant. It is a tropical evergreen tree characterized by wide, dense crown of leaves, fragrant flowers and large thick-skinned fruits. There are many varieties of mango fruits that are loved and eaten throughout the world for their aromatic sweet taste.

Plants do not have a brain or neuronal network, but reactions within signalling pathways may provide a biochemical basis for learning and memory in addition to computation and problem solving. Once I watched the instance of fear factor in forest ecosystem when I was working in the hilly region. The large part of forest was destroyed by fire during dry season but small part was not touched by the fire. During rainy season, plants produced more and dense deep green branches and other new plants in the large part that was destroyed by the fire. The small part of land which was intact in forest fire had poor vegetation like small grasses and the unhealthy branches of shrubs and trees.

Many plants exhibit certain phenomena at specific times of the day. For example, certain flowers open only in the morning and plants keep track of the time of day with circadian clock. This internal clock is set to solar time every day using sunlight, temperature and other factors, similar to the biological clock of other organisms. Internal clock coupled with the ability to perceive light also allows plants to measure the time of day and so find the season of year.

Plants have many strategies to fight off pests. They can produce different toxins against invaders or they can induce rapid cell death in invading cells to hinder the pests from spreading out. Some plants are capable of rapid movement for survival mechanism. Mimosa plant makes its thin leaves point down at the slightest touch known as Lajjawanti plant in rural areas. Venus flytrap is a carnivorous plant that snaps shut its trap by the touch of insects.

I observed an amazing fact in the plants of mimosa pudica while I was reading in primary level. I touched one plant with a stick several times but it refused to shrink leaves downward after 30 minutes. It shows that the plant can avoid the detection of fear system in repetitive cases. In the Chure Hills of Nepal, cowboys take help from the circadian rhythms of Tapre plant to know the time of early evening on cloudy day. At the time of sunset, the leaves of Tapre begin to shrink down and cowboys know the time to depart with livestock for home.

Senses and responses to the environment are coordinating to adjust plant’s morphology, physiology and phenotype accordingly. Wounded tomatoes are known to produce volatile odour as an alarm signal. Neighbouring tomato plants can detect those signals and prepare for the attack by producing chemicals that defend against insects or attract predators. Other disciplines such as plant physiology, ecology and molecular biology are used to assess this ability. Plants react to chemicals, gravity, light, moisture, infections, temperature, concentrations of oxygen and carbon dioxide, parasite infestation, disease, physical disruption, sound and touch.

Plants are able to register learning and memories from their past experiences. They respond to environmental stimuli by movement and changes in morphology. In addition, plant physiology accurately computes unfavorable circumstances, uses sophisticated analysis of survival factors and takes tightly controlled actions to mitigate and control diverse environmental stressors. Plants are also capable of discriminating positive and negative experiences to face the challenges of adverse effects.

Adult human brain weighs approximately one and half kilograms making up less than 2% of the person’s body weight. Our humanity is defined in the working mechanism of brain. We know that brain is the rider of physical body and it decides everything what we are. The brain is responsible for the generation of language and thought. Anatomical and functional regions of brain are arranged in order to fit into human skull. These regions have become highly folded to accommodate the massive number of neurons and synaptic connections.

It is fact that attention, consciousness, memory and imagination are generated by the anatomical regions of our brain. Its surface is high folded to increase the working areas of gray matter. This results in the creation of gyri or ridges and sulci or furrows. If we were to unfold the entire human brain, it would take up approximately one square meter. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the brain is the amount of synaptic connections formed between neurons. This is the basis of modern school system in which the neuroplasticity of synaptic connections is encouraged to create the learnography of knowledge modulation.

There are estimated 86 billion neurons in the brain. Each of which forms an average of 7000 synaptic connections with other neurons resulting in between 100 and 500 trillion synapses within the brain in an attempt to conceive the enormity of this system. The number of neurons in the human brain has been equated to the number of stars in the galaxy milky-way. Working mechanism of brain is essential to the brain learnography of knowledge chapters. It’s true that the development of smart brainpage is the high success of academic performance. For the advancement of brainpage theory, we have to understand modular structures in the anatomical and functional regions of human brain.

Teaching theories of education

Resources :

  • Flowering season of mango trees
  • Mimosa pudica, Wikipedia
  • Dr Claudia Krebs, UBC – Introduction to central nervous system
  • Plant learning and memory
  • Environmental factors and plant learnography

Shiva Narayan Jha
Principal
Golden Star Secondary School
Rajbiraj, Nepal

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