Charles Darwin was convinced that plants possessed a similar level of intelligence to lower animals. He formulated the root-brain hypothesis, which postulated that the organ of intelligence in plants was the root meristem. Perhaps imbued with this conviction, he teamed up with the physiologist John Burdon-Sanderson and made the first measurements of electrical signals in plants. This facet of his work, however, fell into prolonged oblivion. Today, fuelled in part by advances in information theory and, more importantly, by the ethically motivated search for sentience in lower animals, there is a new interest in the cognitive characteristics of plants. At the same time, significant effort has been put into the development of plant electrophysiology, which is on the verge of providing important practical applications. We are therefore witnessing a lively dialogue between science and philosophy (and sometimes pseudoscience…) about the cognitive characteristics of plants. The aim of this meeting is to shed some light on the subject, although it may well raise more questions than answers.
14:00 – 14:20
Opening: José Alho (SEA/CCDRLVT) and Davide Vecchi (Ciência ULisboa/DHFC-CFCUL)
14:20 – 15:10
Overview: Rui Malhó (Ciência ULisboa/DBV-BioISI) and Maria José Varandas (SEA) + Discussion (Chair: Jorge Marques da Silva, SEA/Ciência ULisboa/DBV-BioISI)
15:10 – 16:00
Plant Memory: Andreia Figueiredo (Ciência ULisboa/DBV-BioISI) and Gil Santos (Ciência ULisboa/DHFC-CFCUL) + Discussion (Chair: Sandra Escobar, SEA/CFUL)
16:00 – 16:10 Coffee Break
16:10 – 17:00
Plant Communication: Maria Amélia Loução (Ciência ULisboa/DBV-Ce3C) and Lorenzo Baravalle (Ciência ULisboa/DHFC-CFCUL) + Discussion (Chair: Cristina Branquinho, Ciência ULisboa/DBV-Ce3C)
17:00 – 17:50
Plant Cognition: Paula Duque (IGC) and Maurizio Esposito (Ciência ULisboa/DHFC-CIUHCT)+ Discussion (Chair: Lavínia Pereira, SEA/ICS-UL)
17:50 – 18:40
Plant Sentience: Jorge Marques da Silva (SEA/Ciência ULisboa/DBV-BioISI) and Davide Vecchi (Ciência ULisboa/DHFC-CFCUL) + Discussion (Chair: Silvia Di Marco, CFCUL)
18:40 – 19:00
Workshop organized by the EVORISE Project (DOI 10.54499/2022.05256.PTDC) and Sociedade de Ética Ambiental in partnership with the Department of Plant Biology (Ciências ULisboa) and BioISI.