Navigation Links
How some plants spread their seeds: Ready, set, catapult
Date:11/3/2010

Catapults are often associated with a medieval means of destruction, but for some plants, they are an effective way to launch new life. Dispersing seeds greater distances by catapulting can provide selective advantages, including the establishment of populations in new environments and escape from certain threats.

In new work published in the recent October issue of American Journal of Botany (http://www.amjbot.org/cgi/reprint/97/10/1595), Dr. Ellerby, students, and postdoctoral researcher Shannon Gerry at Wellesley College measured the mechanics involved in catapulting seeds for the ballistic disperser Cardamine parviflora.

"While plants are generally thought of as immobile organisms, many of them are capable of spectacularly rapid movements," stated Ellerby. For C. parviflora, the valves of the silique rapidly coil outward catapulting the seeds away from the parent plant. The entire coiling and launching process is completed in around 5 msecfaster than the blink of an eye.

Analysis of the launch showed that the catapulting mechanism is not very reliable in C. parviflora, with the majority of the seeds simply falling to the ground. For the seeds that were launched, however, the transference of stored energy to kinetic energy was ~20% efficient. An impressive number when compared to the 0.5% efficiency observed for a ballistic diplochore (Impatiens capensis) in a previous study of Ellerby and colleagues.

This incredible speed and high energy storage present a challenge for the researchers. "These seed pod catapults are on a hair trigger," said Ellerby. "Successfully positioning them in front of our high-speed camera without them exploding prematurely requires an incredibly steady hand."

Seed launching has evolved in a number of groups. Comparing the mechanics of seed dispersal and the morphology of fruits and seeds between plants utilizing ballistic methods and closely related plants that do not, can provide a deeper understanding of the evolution of ballistic mechanisms and the properties required for energy storage and transference.

Seed dispersal has been studied extensively in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, a close relation to Cardamine. Like most other members of the Brassicacae, A. thaliana does not disperse its seeds via catapulting. Instead, the seeds are dropped to the ground as the silique dehisces and splits. Despite these differences in seed dispersal mechanisms, the siliques of C. parviflora and A. thaliana are morphologically similar. One difference is the persistence of second layer on the inner surface of the valve in C. parviflora that degenerates in A. thaliana during maturation. This additional layer likely plays a role in valve coiling.

"Ultimately it will be important to analyze the spring-structures at a tissue and cellular level to determine precisely how they store such impressive amounts of energy," Ellerby said. "This could inform the design of human-engineered structures for absorbing or storing elastic energy."


'/>"/>

Contact: Richard Hund
rhund@botany.org
315-577-9557
American Journal of Botany
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Plants and animals under stress may provide the key to better stock market predictions
2. Study shows how ancient plants and soil fungi turned the Earth green
3. Plants play larger role than thought in cleaning up air pollution
4. UF to help sequence genome of flowering plants ancient living relative
5. Study finds monarch butterflies use medicinal plants to treat offspring for disease
6. Plants kick-start evolutionary drama of Earths oxygenation
7. Montana State, partners in 6 states consider converting invasive plants to fuel
8. Study: Fish near coal-fired power plants have lower levels of mercury
9. Plants that move: How a New Zealand species disperses seeds in a high alpine, wet environment
10. New study shows over one-fifth of the worlds plants are under threat of extinction
11. New VARI findings next step to growing drought-resistant plants
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
How some plants spread their seeds: Ready, set, catapult
(Date:11/19/2016)... Securus Technologies, a leading provider of civil ... corrections and monitoring, announced today that it has offered ... an independent technology judge determine who has the largest ... telephone calling platform, and the best customer service. ... of what we do – which clearly is not ...
(Date:11/17/2016)... 2016  AIC announces that it has just released a new white paper authored ... scale-out plus high speed data transfer storage solutions. Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161116/440463 ... ... ... Setting up a high performance computing or HPC system ...
(Date:11/15/2016)... , Nov. 15, 2016  Synthetic Biologics, Inc. ... therapeutics focused on the gut microbiome, today announced ... 25,000,000 shares of its common stock and warrants ... at a price to the public of $1.00 ... Synthetic Biologics from the offering, excluding the proceeds, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/6/2016)... ... December 06, 2016 , ... ... portfolio company, today announced it has acquired the assets of Theorem Clinical ... International and focuses on clinical trial drug packaging, labeling, storage, reconciliation, and ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... Ind. , Dec. 6, 2016 Zimmer ... "Company") today announced the pricing terms of its ... to $1.25 billion aggregate purchase price (excluding accrued and ... settlement date and excluding fees and expenses related ... the debt securities identified in the table below ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... ... December 06, 2016 , ... ... company focused on discovery and development of precision treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, ... for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) inhibited the direct neurotoxic effect of prion-like forms ...
(Date:12/5/2016)... ... 2016 , ... This composition patent, U.S. Patent No. 9,499,637, ... composition claims are not limited to any particular process to make or use ... fibers, graphene, and other materials. A continuation application, U.S. Patent App. No. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: