Scientists believe that Venus Flytraps sense something touching them and remember this sensation short term. Upon being touched again, the flytrap will react accordingly, snapping shut on its victim. This process seems to point towards them having a short term memory, remembering the first stimulus and then to subsequent stimuli by closing.
It is common knowledge to scientists that plants are capable of having some form of long-term memory, but the concept and function of short term memory in plants have alluded scientists. One new study coming from the National Institute for Basic Biology in Okazaki, Japan, may shed some light on this question. Mitsuyasu Hasebe, a coauthor of the study, explains vernalization, a process in which plants can remember the harsh elements of winter using cues and then utilize this information to help facilitate their flowering in spring. This study seems to indicate that plants use calcium to fuel their short term memory.
These images of a Venus flytrap genetically modified to glow show that calcium levels in the plant’s trap surge and then start to fade after one of its sensory hairs is tapped. A second tap brings even more calcium rushing into cells in the leaves, exceeding a threshold that causes the trap to close, a new study finds:
This study was carried out by administering Venus flytraps with a gene that would produce a protein that would glow green when in the presence of calcium. The study found that a Venus flytrap touched on its sensitive hairs would create the glowing reaction between protein and calcium. Upon touching the flytrap again, they found the response was even more intense, indicating an even stronger release of calcium before the plant closed.
Many aspects of Venus flytraps still allude scientists to this day but one thing is for certain, this study provided an interesting and critical piece of the puzzle to understanding how plants may utilize unique methods to have functional short, and long-term memory.