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Plants that move: How a New Zealand species disperses seeds in a high alpine, wet environment
Date:9/30/2010

ulshe investigated capsules of 17 species of Veronica, which she used to examine the function and anatomy of this dehiscence behavior. She and her colleagues published their findings in the September issue of the American Journal of Botany (http://www.amjbot.org/cgi/content/full/97/9/1413).

To determine which of the Veronica species were hygrochastic, Pufal and her co-authors submerged entire dry fruit capsules under water and exposed frozen tissue slices on slides to drops of water. Based on their results, they classified 10 of the 17 species as hygrochastic, meaning their capsules opened up under water and closed upon drying, or their cells absorbed water. Upon closer examination, they found that when the capsule of a hygrochastic species was exposed to water, the cell walls of a single layer of cells located between the two halves, or septum, of the fruit capsule filled up with water. These distinctly elongated cylindrical cells swell, increasing in diameter and extending the height and length of the capsule septum, but not its thickness. At the same time, cells lining the outer edge of the capsule were found to be thicker walled and to contain ligninthese cells do not swell with water and thus provide a resistant outer edge to the capsule. As the inner tissue swells and the outer tissue stiffly resists, the capsule halves pull away from each other, and a valve on the outer edge splits open. As the splits widen, a splash cup is formed.

This movement is reversiblewhen the capsule dries, the swelling recedes, and the cells contract to their original position.

In contrast, the cells in the septum of the remaining 7 species of Veronica were found to have thick cell walls, and all the cell walls in the fruit capsule were completely lignified. The authors classified these species as ripening dehiscent as they opened with ripening and remained o
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Contact: Richard Hund
rhund@botany.org
314-577-9557
American Journal of Botany
Source:Eurekalert

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