Plant root networks and swarm rules
Authors: Ciszak M., Mancuso S.
Autors Affiliation: CNR-Istituto Nazionale di Ottica, Florence, Italy;
LINV-Department of Plant Soil & Environmental Science, University of Florence, Italy
Abstract: Many phenomena observed in plants clearly undergo complex dynamics. The closing traps of carnivorous plants, the movements of Mimosa pudica leaves or the growing patterns formed by roots are only some of the many possible examples proving that plants are not static organisms. Some movements are fast, but others have cycles counted in hours or days. It is also well known that plants can communicate with other organisms by means of chemical substances and that they have evolved alarm systems which enable them to protect themselves from the attacks of enemies. The interdisciplinary approach applying nonlinear dynamics methods to understand all these biological processes may give insight into fundamental aspects of plant dynamics and behavior, uncovering how and why plants socially interact with each other and perhaps with members of other Kingdoms. In this chapter, we discuss recently discovered  swarming behavior in plant roots. Swarming is a phenomenon widely examined in animal groups that employ it to organize the behavior of individuals for the benefit of the whole group. Swarming is usually based on very simple rules which may induce synchronized motion of the whole group or formation of clusters. Synchronization may also occur between inanimate physical systems, where apparent intelligent behavior emerges spontaneously. There is, however, a crucial difference between emergent behaviors observed in living organisms and in inanimate physical systems. Animal and also now plant swarming are thought to be based not only on spontaneous physical interaction but on intelligent decision making involving the detection (or observation) of actions performed by organism groups and individuals .
KeyWords: Attraction force; Decision making; Electric field; Plant leafs; Plant roots; Repulsion force; Self-propelled particles; Swarming; Synchronization; Transmitters