Why you should listen
Does the Boston fern you're dutifully misting each morning appreciate your care? Or can the spreading oak in your local park take umbrage at the kids climbing its knotted branches? Not likely, says Italian researcher Stefano Mancuso, but that doesn't mean that these same living organisms aren't capable of incredibly sophisticated and dynamic forms of awareness and communication.
From his laboratory near Florence, Mancuso and his team explore how plants communicate, or "signal," with each other, using a complex internal analysis system to find nutrients, spread their species and even defend themselves against predators. Their research continues to transform our view of plants from simple organisms to complex ecological structures and communities that can gather, process and -- most incredibly -- share important information.
What others say
"To christen the lab in 2004, Mancuso decided to use the controversial term 'plant neurobiology' to reinforce the idea that plants have biochemistry, cell biology and electrophysiology similar to the human nervous system." — Nicole Martinelli, Wired.com