The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Why Does This Plant Bloom Just Once Every Six Years ? (Titan Arum)  (Read 12293 times)

neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Too Much Free Time Level Member
  • **********
  • Posts: 20565
    • View Profile
Dearest Scientific Klevur Peeps Whom I Admire So Very Much,


See this plant ?...It's called the Titan Arum !



It apparently is also called the Corpse Plant/Flower because it smells so awful !

Thing is, it blooms just once every six years !!...how come ?

How does a plant evolve on a planet that has a yearly cycle of seasons that it should only bloom once in every six years ?
What is it's agenda ?...what kind of cycle is it living by ?




Thanks



Neil
Bothered About A Six Year Cycle !
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

MonikaS

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 279
    • View Profile
Uuummmmmm because it stinks so awfully, and it needs 6 years to summon enough courage to bloom?  ;D

DoctorBeaver

  • Too Much Free Time Level Member
  • **********
  • Posts: 12659
  • A stitch in time would have confused Einstein.
    • View Profile
It's shy

RD

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7121
    • View Profile
Coz it's huge: not enough resources to produce an organ that big every year.

If you're interested in weird reproductive cycles have a look a the prime number cicadas ...

Quote
In nature, primes are the key to the survival of a strange species of insect. The prime-number cicadas hide in the ground for 17 years, then emerge en masse from the earth into the forest. They sing loudly, eat, have sex, lay eggs and then die after six weeks of intensive partying. The forest goes quiet again for 17 years.

But why did the cicadas choose 17, a prime number, for their hibernation? Scientists believe there is a predator that likes to crash their party and also emerges periodically after a certain number of years. The cicadas found that by choosing a prime-number cycle for their party, they could keep out of step of the predator more often than if they'd chosen a non-prime such as 15.

For the cicadas, the primes aren't just some abstract curiosity, but the secret to their survival.
http://plus.maths.org/issue26/features/sautoy/

neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Too Much Free Time Level Member
  • **********
  • Posts: 20565
    • View Profile
Uuummmmmm because it stinks so awfully, and it needs 6 years to summon enough courage to bloom?  ;D


Well...I'm convinced !!  Thanks MonikaS

neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Too Much Free Time Level Member
  • **********
  • Posts: 20565
    • View Profile
It's shy

awwww....I'm shy !!...When ewe look at that plant though, I'd say it ought to rather be proud than shy ! :-)

neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Too Much Free Time Level Member
  • **********
  • Posts: 20565
    • View Profile
Coz it's huge: not enough resources to produce an organ that big every year.

If you're interested in weird reproductive cycles have a look a the prime number cicadas ...

Quote
In nature, primes are the key to the survival of a strange species of insect. The prime-number cicadas hide in the ground for 17 years, then emerge en masse from the earth into the forest. They sing loudly, eat, have sex, lay eggs and then die after six weeks of intensive partying. The forest goes quiet again for 17 years.

But why did the cicadas choose 17, a prime number, for their hibernation? Scientists believe there is a predator that likes to crash their party and also emerges periodically after a certain number of years. The cicadas found that by choosing a prime-number cycle for their party, they could keep out of step of the predator more often than if they'd chosen a non-prime such as 15.

For the cicadas, the primes aren't just some abstract curiosity, but the secret to their survival.
http://plus.maths.org/issue26/features/sautoy/



Thanks RD....I did once ask a question about Cicadas too.....and your info has reminded me how unusual they are !

Asyncritus

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 235
    • View Profile
I actually saw a palm just outside the grounds of the University of the West Indies in St Augustine, Trinidad blooming.

It produced a massive inflorescence nearly 6 feet tall right at the top of the 20-foot tree, and then, after the fruits had been produced and matured - and it seems that there were thousands of them - the palm just died.

Rumour had it that it had been planted 49 years ago, flowered once in its life, and that was the end. Sad, huh?
« Last Edit: 03/01/2009 12:27:10 by Asyncritus »

Asyncritus

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 235
    • View Profile
Quote
But why did the cicadas choose 17, a prime number, for their hibernation?

You want to rephrase that? Cicadas counting? You gotta be kidding us.

Quote
Scientists believe there is a predator that likes to crash their party and also emerges periodically after a certain number of years. The cicadas found that by choosing a prime-number cycle for their party, they could keep out of step of the predator more often than if they'd chosen a non-prime such as 15.

Cicadas know about prime and non-prime numbers too? Yeeeeshh!

Quote
For the cicadas, the primes aren't just some abstract curiosity, but the secret to their survival.

Somebody's yanking your chain! Cicadas knowing about prime numbers indeed! Believe that, and you'll believe anything!

But Somebody did know about prime numbers and how to use them. If it wasn't the grand-daddy of cicadas, then Who????? Heh heh heh...





RD

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7121
    • View Profile
There would have been a wide genetic variation in the period of the life cycle of the cicadas, e.g. 1,2,3,4 ... years,
but there is natural selection for the cycle where there is least predation, this will be a prime number of years.
Those cicadas reproducing on other periods will be predated more and are less likely to live and reproduce and pass on their (genetic) non-prime clock. So over time the bulk of this species has its life cycle tuned to a prime number of years.

So no, cicadas do not "know" about prime numbers,
 but there is natural selection for those cicadas with a genetically programmed life cycle which is a prime number of years (13 or 17).
« Last Edit: 03/01/2009 15:50:33 by RD »

Asyncritus

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 235
    • View Profile
Quote
But why did the cicadas choose 17, a prime number, for their hibernation? Scientists believe there is a predator that likes to crash their party and also emerges periodically after a certain number of years. The cicadas found that by choosing a prime-number cycle

Come on RD - neilep's inference (or the guy who wrote the article) is pretty plain, I would have said, apart from the hasty backtracking you're now trying to do.

Cicadas CAN COUNT, everybody knows that, don't they? - and they know about prime numbers too - otherwise they couldn't CHOOSE 17, a prime number cycle!

Now wangle your way out of that one!

.

BenV

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1524
    • View Profile
Now wangle your way out of that one!

He just gave you a perfectly reasonable explanation - it's a shame we have to watch the way we word things, knowing that you may leap on it.  I understood RD's meaning, I wonder if anyone else mistook it in the way you did?

RD

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7121
    • View Profile
As I mentioned in my previous post, the period of cicadas life cycle is genetically programmed. The cicadas do not have a choice.
The environment chose (favoured) the cicadas whose life cycle was a prime number of years, i.e. natural selection.

The cicadas cannot count but have clocks, biochemical clocks. I believe the cicadas receive a zeitgaber of the passsing of the years whilst underground by the annual changes in the composition of the tree sap they feed on.
« Last Edit: 03/01/2009 21:30:20 by RD »

Asyncritus

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 235
    • View Profile
It is a completely irrational 'explanation'. You, Ben, are bright enough to recognise the problem and stop putting up these fatuous remarks.

HOW DID THE GENETIC PROGRAM EVER GET CONSTRUCTED AND INSERTED INTO THE GENOME?

Once it's in, then natural selection can act. I agree with that. But that IS NOT THE QUESTION. Now stop fudging the issue and admit that there's no explanation other than divine origination.

BenV

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1524
    • View Profile
Once more, you fail to grasp that even if there was concrete evidence that evolution was not the mechanism, divine intervention would still not be an acceptable scientific mechanism.  Sure, we would have to review a great deal of science, but as your explanation is based on fantasy it wouldn't be an option.

HOW DID THE GENETIC PROGRAM EVER GET CONSTRUCTED AND INSERTED INTO THE GENOME?

Once it's in, then natural selection can act. I agree with that. But that IS NOT THE QUESTION. Now stop fudging the issue and admit that there's no explanation other than divine origination.

I don't know how the gene for hibernation length arose - I assume it's a number of genes working together, and in tandem with epigenetic factors.  We know that genes change over time, so it's a reasonable assumption that these genes have adapted over time from an ancestor of the cicada - biochemical clocks, as RD explained, are found in many species, functioning in many different ways - why would cicada be a special case?  We understand the genetics of some of these biological clocks, but not all of them yet, as they seem to involve complicated chemical pathways.

You appreciate that biology is complicated (far more so than any creator would have bothered with) and that this is probably not a case of just one gene?

BenV

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1524
    • View Profile
In fact - I can't see how this goes against your beliefs anyway.  You accept that there is genetic variation within species, and that this is prone to natural selection.  RD's explanation fits perfectly well with that.

you:
Quote
3 The created 'kinds' (I read our modern taxon 'families' for 'kinds') had considerable but limited amounts of variability built in, as we see today.

RD:
Quote
There would have been a wide genetic variation in the period of the life cycle of the cicadas, e.g. 1,2,3,4 ... years,
but there is natural selection for the cycle where there is least predation, this will be a prime number of years.
Those cicadas reproducing on other periods will be predated more and are less likely to live and reproduce and pass on their (genetic) non-prime clock. So over time the bulk of this species has its life cycle tuned to a prime number of years.

What's the problem?  Too much variation for you?  As I said above, I don't know the genetics myself, but this could be variation as simple as a small change in the number of 'repeats' on a gene, something which is known to have wide variation.  Is this more than the 'limited amounts of variation' your closed minded world view affords you?

MonikaS

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 279
    • View Profile
The Titan Arum in the botanical garden in Bonn is about to bloom, they've got a web cam: http://www.botgart.uni-bonn.de/o_news/webcam_farn.html
They say it'll grow only to a size of about 2 meters, because it's a young plant with a bulb size of only 20kg.

Don_1

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6380
  • A stupid comment for every occasion.
    • View Profile
    • Knight Light Haulage
The Titan Arum in the botanical garden in Bonn is about to bloom, they've got a web cam: http://www.botgart.uni-bonn.de/o_news/webcam_farn.html
They say it'll grow only to a size of about 2 meters, because it's a young plant with a bulb size of only 20kg.

Will they be issuing staff & visitors with gas masks?


MonikaS

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 279
    • View Profile
I think they will.  ;D I'm glad the web doen't transmit smells!

They think it'll open tomorrow or the day after.

MonikaS

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 279
    • View Profile
Get your gas masks ready... it's open!

Chemistry4me

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7710
    • View Profile
Whoa! It is!?!

Karen W.

  • Moderator
  • Too Much Free Time Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31520
  • "come fly with me"
    • View Profile
oooh...very cool..I hope the link works later in  couple weeks.... my big computer is down and I can't see it on my phone...Will check it when I can.

Chemistry4me

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7710
    • View Profile
I watched a Youtube video from the BBC which said that it blooms once every 3 years. ???

Karen W.

  • Moderator
  • Too Much Free Time Level Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31520
  • "come fly with me"
    • View Profile
Is that instead of every six?

Chemistry4me

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 7710
    • View Profile
Well I don't know, that's why I am asking. ???

 

SMF 2.0 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
 
Login
Login with username, password and session length