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Author Topic: How do plants control their direction?  (Read 1904 times)

Taylor Sharpe

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How do plants control their direction?
« on: 22/07/2010 13:30:03 »
Taylor Sharpe  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi Chis and the gang,

I had a question that I was hoping you'd be able to answer, and was also wondering if this is a suitable way to pose questions that could be featured on air.

How is it that trees and other plants (ex. orchid) are able to send varied amounts of nutrients and other resources to certain parts of the plant in order to coincide with the direction of the sun? And further more, could this adaptation be artificially created and used to say, control the direction of solar panels in a low energy way?

Love the show.

Sincerely,

Taylor Sharpe
Vancouver, Canada

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 22/07/2010 13:30:03 by _system »


 

Offline Jolly- Joliver

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How do plants control their direction?
« Reply #1 on: 29/03/2011 18:55:45 »
Taylor Sharpe  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi Chis and the gang,

I had a question that I was hoping you'd be able to answer, and was also wondering if this is a suitable way to pose questions that could be featured on air.

How is it that trees and other plants (ex. orchid) are able to send varied amounts of nutrients and other resources to certain parts of the plant in order to coincide with the direction of the sun? And further more, could this adaptation be artificially created and used to say, control the direction of solar panels in a low energy way?

Love the show.

Sincerely,

Taylor Sharpe
Vancouver, Canada

What do you think?

I believe they just follow the light. So while it might appear that they grow in a certain way actually if there is no light availble for that part of the plant it cannot grow.
 

Offline Dasyatis

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How do plants control their direction?
« Reply #2 on: 21/04/2011 20:47:22 »
The control over directionality of branches/leaves/etc. is mediated by two phenomena: phototropism and gravitropism. Phototropism is the response to the direction of light, and encourages the most beneficial position for photosynthetic parts of the plant (often upwards). You can lay a potted plant on its side, and eventually (over days if not weeks) the stem and leaves will position themselves upwards again. Few plants change leaf direction in the course of a day (pennywort is an example of one). Gravitropism is the response to gravity, and ensures the roots grow down into the soil, where nutrients and water are typically found. If you're looking for the actual physiology of how a plant shunts nutrients to specific points, I'm at a loss. Stimulating growth in axial meristems is all I can offer.

As for using this to change solar panel direction, I don't think plants have the answer. It still requires energy for the plant to reposition its leaves/stems/roots/etc. and does not provide a low-energy conservation model (that we know of). Massive solar panel fields already use simple photoreceptors to track the sun over the course of a day, and adjust accordingly. 
 

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How do plants control their direction?
« Reply #2 on: 21/04/2011 20:47:22 »

 

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