Plants Are Better At Math Than You Are

One, Two, Three

Arabidopsis thaliana, such as these, perform arithmetic, a new study found. This photo shows two healthy Arabidopsis plants and one failing one.

Kirsten Bomblies via the National Institute of General Medical Sciences’ Biomedical Beat

Research suggests they can divide and estimate amounts and time

Need some way to persuade your fourth-grader to do her math homework? Tell her even plants can perform the kind of arithmetic she sees in her textbook. (Okay, I don’t know if that’s exactly motivational.)

One new study has found that a simple plant, called Arabidopsis thaliana, is able to perform arithmetic to decide at what rate it should consume starch at night, Reuters reported. Once the sun sets, plants are no longer able to make new food until morning, so they have to ration out what they’ve stored during the day. The Arabidopsis researchers studied were even able to deal with an unexpected early night, Reuters reported.

The study will be published tomorrow in the journal eLife. Read a little more now at Reuters, or read all you want tomorrow on eLife, which publishes all of its articles for anybody to read for free.



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