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:4/26/2016)... LONDON , April 26, 2016 ... a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... to integrate the Onegini mobile security platform with ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ) The integration will ... to access and transact across channels. Using this ...
(Date:4/19/2016)... -- The new GEZE SecuLogic access control ... system solution for all door components. It can be ... interface with integration authorization management system, and thus fulfills ... dimensions of the access control and the optimum integration ... considerable freedom of design with regard to the doors. ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... DUBLIN , April 15, 2016 ... of the,  "Global Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160330/349511LOGO ) , ,The global gait ... CAGR of 13.98% during the period 2016-2020. ... movement angles, which can be used to compute ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016 ... reports the Company,s CEO  was featured in an ... Enter When VCs Fear To Tread: http://www.lifescienceleader.com/doc/accelerators-enter-when-vcs-fear-to-tread-0001 ... magazine is an essential business journal ... from emerging biotechs to Big Pharmas. Their content ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Cambridge Semantics, the leading provider of Smart Data ... has been named to The Silicon Review’s “20 Fastest Growing Big Data Companies of ... serves the needs of end users facing some of the most complex data challenges ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. , April 27, 2016 ... announced today that Martine Rothblatt , Ph.D., Chairman ... an overview and update on the company,s business at ... Conference. The presentation will take place on ... and can be accessed via a live webcast on ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... MIAMI (PRWEB) , ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... joined the GSCG Advisory Board. Ross is the founder of GSCG affiliate Kimera Labs ... of Miami, where he studied hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for hematologic disorders and the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: