Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Conifer cones bear their ages well, and still move it

11.01.2017

Freiburg biologists demonstrate that fossil conifer cones possess the oldest known plant structures which still exhibit movements

Fossil conifer cones can still move their individual seed scales after millions of years. This is the finding of a study conducted by the biologists Dr. Simon Poppinga and Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck from the Plant Biomechanics Group and Botanical Garden of the University of Freiburg.


Photographs of the Keteleeria sp. (left) and Pinus sp. 1 (middle) cones investigated in the study, and an x-ray-computed tomography image of the Pinus sp. 2 cone (right).

Photos: © Plant Biomechanics Group

The cones analyzed in the study therefore represent the oldest known plant structures that are still capable of movement and can also serve as a model for bioinspired technical applications with low maintenance requirements. The researchers published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports.

Cones from coniferous trees like pines open in response to dry conditions and close in response to wet conditions – a mechanism that enables them to release their seeds under favorable environmental conditions. In addition, the movement of the individual scales is passive, meaning that it does not require any metabolic energy.

These attributes have recently brought conifer cones to the attention of scientists, who aim to use them as biological models for the development of technical devices capable of autonomous movement. Poppinga and Speck have now discovered that the scales continue to function in this way for an extremely long time: Fossil cones from the Eemian interglacial period, about 126,000 to 113,000 years ago, as well as the middle Miocene, about 16.5 to 11.5 million years ago, still react to changes in moisture by moving their scales.

With the help of x-ray-computed tomography, the researchers demonstrated that the cones are preserved by coalification during the fossilization process and that the fossilized cones show only very few mineral inclusions. This ensures that the fine structures responsible for moisture-dependent movement remain intact.

The study was conducted within the scope of the European research network JONAS (Joint Research Network on Advanced Materials and Systems). Besides Poppinga and Speck, scientists from BASF SE and Heidelberg University Hospital also collaborated on the study.

Original publication:
S. Poppinga, N. Nestle, A. Šandor, B. Reible, T. Masselter, B. Bruchman, T. Speck (2016). Hygroscopic motions of fossil conifer cones. In: Scientific Reports 7:40302, DOI: 10.1038/srep40302

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Thomas Speck
Plant Biomechanics Group / Botanical Garden
University of Freiburg
Phone: +49 (0)761/203-2875
E-Mail: thomas.speck@biologie.uni-freiburg.de

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.pr.uni-freiburg.de/pm/2017/pm.2017-01-11.2-en?set_language=en

Rudolf-Werner Dreier | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon
23.11.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology

nachricht Migrating Cells: Folds in the cell membrane supply material for necessary blebs
23.11.2017 | Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>