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Tomatoes are smarter than you think

Tomatoes are smarter than you think

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Plants have abilities we can only dream of, reports SIMON WEBSTER.

Tomatoes may not say a lot, but that doesn’t mean they’re stupid. When, in May, an international group of scientists – the Tomato Genome Consortium – ended nine years of work by sequencing the tomato genome, it found that the tomato had about 25 per cent more genes than humans.

These genes don’t technically make tomatoes smarter than humans – you’re unlikely to find an international team of tomatoes setting up a Human Genome Consortium any time soon – but they do give tomatoes some special skills.

Tomatoes, like other plants, can react to light waves that we can’t see, respond to wind and decide whether to grow tall and thin or short and fat, and monitor soil, tasting nutrients and picking up messages from other plants.

Author and plant scientist Daniel Chamovitz explains a little more about plants’ remarkable skills here in The Wall Street Journal. If this tickles your fancy, try his book, the fascinating What a Plant Knows (to be reviewed in the November-December issue of Organic Gardener).