Tag Archives: evolutionary biology

Altruism Exhibited in Maize Plants

4 Feb

by Russ McSpadden / Earth First! News

[The text of this work is free to share and distribute under the following Creative Commons License CC-BY-ND 3.0]

maize-or-indian-corn-plantBy now the altruistic nature of just about every species of animal is well documented. A human mother throws herself in front of rush hour traffic to save her child, vampire bats regurgitate blood to give to sick or injured roost mates, termites and ants effectively commit righteous suicide by fatally rupturing a specialized gland to release a sticky secretion that confuses would-be invaders of their colony, African buffalo jump into harms way to rescue bloodied members of their herd captured by predators, and um, yeah you get it. This here world is full of fine examples of selfless mutual aid.

But it’d be a stretch to imagine altruism in the plant kingdom, wouldn’t it?

Well, turns out, Pamela Diggle, professor of plant evolution at the University of Colorado, thinks corn plants exhibit altruistic behaviors as well, at least towards their siblings. This means that even for flora, blood—or chlorophyll rather—is thicker than water.

Wait, this sounds crazy. How did she come to that conclusion? Continue reading