Plants Can Do Arithmetic: Study
Leaves can calculate exactly how much starch a plant will need each night
By Ruth Brown, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2013 7:16 PM CDT
Updated Jun 29, 2013 7:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – How do plants survive without starving through the night when there's no sunlight to nourish them? Simple arithmetic. A study by UK scientists to be published in the journal eLife found that plants precisely calculate and adjust the amount of starch to store and consume overnight, to make sure it lasts until dawn, reports. "They're actually doing maths in a simple, chemical way—that's amazing," the lead researcher tells the BBC. "It astonished us as scientists to see that."

Once the sun goes down, mechanisms inside the leaf measure how much starch is stored, estimate the time until dawn, then divide it so about 95% of the starch is consumed by the time the sun comes up again. But one scientist not involved in the study had no sense of humor about the research. "This is not evidence for plant intelligence," he told the BBC. "It simply suggests that plants have a mechanism designed to automatically regulate how fast they burn carbohydrates at night. Plants don't do maths voluntarily and with a purpose in mind like we do."

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Jun 29, 2013 9:10 PM CDT
I think the scientist not involved works for PETA. If vegans find out that plants have feelings and emotions,which has been proved, and produce offspring, they will be forced to eat dirt. How long would that last?
Jun 29, 2013 9:00 AM CDT
I love the way every Newser science article directly contradicts the headline. Ugh!
Jun 29, 2013 8:41 AM CDT
OF COURSE they can do math! Take 'em out of a standard growing pot, and there you have it - SQUARE ROOTS! LOL (yes, I'll keep my day job...)