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


We cannot agree with Segundo-Ortin and Calvo that plants are sentient organisms. We have critically examined several aspects of their target article, and find their claims are not supported by the published evidence. We address these claims in sections on whether plants have a ‘neurobiology’ analogous to that of animal nervous systems, including neurotransmitters and synaptic receptors that respond to anesthetics; and whether plant signaling resembles neural transmission. For the latter, we especially consider the unique way plants signal their responses to wounding. Although the plant vascular system has been compared to the animal nervous system, animal blood vessels would be a better point of comparison.

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

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 f 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 (2015 Sinauer) and Fundamentals of Plant Physiology (2017 Chand). Website

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