of books by Daniel Chamovitz

DANIEL CHAMOVITZ is Director of the Manna Center for Plant Biosciences at Tel Aviv University.

What a Plant Knows
by Daniel Chamovitz
Scientific American / Farar, Straus and Giroux, 2012
The recent advances in Genomics, the biological science of sequencing and understanding the entire genetic makeup of an organism, is bringing plants back into the center of focus of all of biology, not just botanists and plant specialists. This book explores the genetic and cellular basis of how plants interact with their environment and with each other, displaying 'senses' that are not unlike those of animals when it comes to touch, smelling and reacting to light and temperature. Of course the range of physiological responses of animals (walking, talking, hearing and seeing) are different, yet mechanical, thermal, chemical and photoreceptor activity are based on common evolutionary language.

An interesting thread evolving throughout the chapters is the inevitable temptation to compare plant behavior to human consciousness. What if plants are aware of what they are doing? What does it mean, to be aware of your surroundings, your responses to environmental impacts, infections, being eating by caterpillars? It is not clear how far Chamovitz the scientists is willing to go, but Chamovitz the narrator is clearly in favor of giving plants some awareness over their behavior - hence the title of the book.


November 25, 2012 /  © 2012 Lukas K. Buehler / go back to Book Review Home