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Miguel Segundo-Ortin and Paco Calvo, Plant sentience? Between romanticism and denial: Science


Segundo-Ortin & Calvo’s (2023) target article takes a less speculative and more evidence-based approach to plant sentience than did previous works promoting that idea. However, it retains many of the idea’s longstanding difficulties such as starting from a false dichotomy (plants must be either hardwired or sentient), not accepting the full burden of proof for an extraordinary claim, confusingly redefining accepted cognitive terms, implying cell consciousness, not adopting the most parsimonious explanations for plant behaviors, and downplaying all the counterevidence. We advise rectifying these problems before plant sentience can become a full-fledged scientific domain.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Author Biography

Jon Mallatt, Clinical Professor, WWAMI Medical Education Program, University of Idaho, does research on the origin of the major animal groups, especially vertebrates, and on the evolution and nature of consciousness. Website

David G. Robinson, emeritus Professor for Plant Cell Biology, University of Heidelberg, studies vesicle-mediated trafficking in relation to secretion and endocytosis. He is founder of the annual European Network for Plant Endomembrane Research meetings. Website

Michael R. Blatt, Regius Professor of Botany, University of Glasgow, is an electrophysiologist studying mammalian, plant, and fungal membrane biology. His recent focus has been on systems and synthetic bioengineering for enhanced water use and photosynthetic efficiencies in plants. Website

Andreas Draguhn, Professor and Chair of of Neurophysiology, University of Heidelberg. After working on the molecular, biophysical and cellular mechanisms of synaptic inhibition his interests focused on coordinated activity patterns in neuronal networks. Website

Lincoln Taiz, emeritus professor, Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, works on the structure, function, and evolution of the vacuolar proton ATPase. He is co-author of Plant Physiology and Development (2022 Oxford University Press) and Fundamentals of Plant Physiology (2023 Oxford University Press). Website