LPS Pilot Project
The Living Planet Solutions Pilot Project, or LPS Pilot Project for short, is essentially an attempt to understand and influence all the various horticultural ecosystems and biomes in ways that would create optimal environments for plant growth.
The last 10 years have been a watershed for our collective understanding of the complex biology of plants and their associated biome. Plants have turned out to be far more complicated than anyone could have dared to dream!
For example; the genome of Arabidopsis thaliana, a small flowering plant native to Eurasia, encodes 129 ABC proteins. This gene count far outstrips those for the human genome or any other animal genome sequenced to date. The human genome is estimated to encode a mere 51 ABC proteins.
This is a staggering degree of complexity for an organism that to any outside observer appears to be the definition of simplicity. Plants have no central nervous system, no formal endocrine system, no circulating immune cells; they are immobile with their roots stuck in the muck. So what then are all these proteins for?
Perhaps, as the growing body of evidence suggests, plants are not so simple after all!
To understand how this could be we need to change our perspective, imagine the world from the perspective of a plant. You cannot run away from predators, or hunt for food, or walk to the next source of water. If you run out of food you starve, If the sun is too hot, you bake. Having your roots stuck in the muck means you must find another way.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
For a seed producing plant like the apple tree this is a big problem. How do you spread your seed? For the apple tree the answer was to find a way to convince other organisms to spread its seeds for it. It achieves this by putting large amounts of resources into wrapping its seeds in a sweet, nutrient filled, energy packed treat that foraging animals find irresistible! The payoff? These animals then spread the seeds across a wide landscape, complete with ready-made fertilizer!
In short, the plant learned to co-operate.
In fact, the closer you look the less and less a “plant” resembles a single living organism and the more it looks like a community of organisms working together, in other words, the health of a plant depends almost entirely on its ecosystem.
So naturally, if you want to improve the health and productivity of a plant, it makes sense to focus on improving that ecosystem.
It was this realization that directly led to the Living Planet Solutions (LPS) Pilot Project.
But before jumping in, we first need to get a better sense for what an ecosystem is
and how it all relates to plant health.