Can Plants feel pain?

lightnje at esvx19.es.dupont.com lightnje at esvx19.es.dupont.com
Thu Dec 8 07:54:41 EST 1994


In article <lowell-0712941517290001 at zelinski.com>, lowell at zelinski.com (Lowell Zelin

A long thread on plants feeling pain....

	In short, yes plants sense and respond to attacks, both by
being chewed upon and by infection by microorganisms.  In the specific
instance of being eaten (herbivory) there is a wealth of literature
on Solanaceous (Tomatoes and such) plants responding to being chewed on
by insects by producing anti-nutritional compounds called proteinase 
inhibitors.  
	A useful, but somewhat dated, reference useful for laypersons is
			Ryan CA (1978) Proteinase inhibitors in 
			leaves:a biochemical model for pest induced
			natural plant protection.
			Trends in Biochemical Sciences 5:148-151.
        The electrical signal is described in a paper published in Nature
(360:62-65) by Wildon et al.  Plants not only propagate an electrical 
signal in response to being wounded but also use that signal and others
to respond with defensive mechanisms.

	Whether this constitutes pain is a question for philosophers.

	Don't forget in this debate that some plants are quite well
adapted to having certain parts of them eaten.  Tomato seeds are quite
hard to germinate if they haven't passed through someones gut, for 
instance.

			Jonathan Lightner
			CR+D
			DuPont (just visiting)

	**My thoughts are my own unless they're worth money**
	**Any spelling errors in this document have been introduced
by aliens**





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