Plants sum and subtract stimuli over different timescales

Mathieu Rivière, Yasmine Meroz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mounting evidence suggests that plants engage complex computational processes to quantify and integrate sensory information over time, enabling remarkable adaptive growth strategies. However, quantitative understanding of these computational processes is limited. We report experiments probing the dependence of gravitropic responses of wheat coleoptiles on previous stimuli. First, building on a mathematical model that identifies this dependence as a form of memory, or a filter, we use experimental observations to reveal the mathematical principles of how coleoptiles integrate multiple stimuli over time. Next, we perform two-stimulus experiments, informed by model predictions, to reveal fundamental computational processes. We quantitatively show that coleoptiles respond not only to sums but also to differences between stimuli over different timescales, constituting evidence that plants can compare stimuli - crucial for search and regulation processes. These timescales also coincide with oscillations observed in gravitropic responses of wheat coleoptiles, suggesting shoots may combine memory and movement in order to enhance posture control and sensing capabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2306655120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number42
StatePublished - 2023


  • computational processes
  • control theory
  • mathematical model
  • memory
  • plant tropism

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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