Publication by Merel Soons et al. in Functional Ecology
Plants cannot move to find new places to live in, but they can actively direct their seeds to new suitable places for plant development. This 'directed dispersal' had previously been shown only for plants with seeds that are transported by animals.
Researchers have now shown that plants can also actively send their seeds towards suitable sites by way of wind or water. The results from the study, led by Utrecht University biologist Merel Soons, is published Early Online in Functional Ecology on 14 October.
Plants growing under permanently flooded, wet conditions produce large seeds that sink immediately in water. These seeds are transported at the bottom of the pond, stream, or ditch by water flows that take them only to other inundated, wet sites.
In contrast, plants growing at the waterline produce seeds that float for extensive periods of time until they are eventually washed ashore in the waterline. In these ways, plants growing in the reach of water use the transportation capacity of water in very different ways to direct the dispersal of their seeds towards suitable sites. Plants growing on the uplands have seeds that are best dispersed by wind, facilitating their transportation across wet areas to reach other dry sites.
REALLY QUITE SMART
Whereas directed dispersal has been known for animal-dispersed plant species, most plant species are not dispersed by animals but by water or wind. "I wondered: wouldn't it be highly efficient for these species as well, if their seeds were dispersed predominantly towards suitable sites?" says Merel Soons, lead author of the publication.
Together with her research team, she studied a range of wetland plant species growing in the water, on shorelines, and on the permanently dry, upland part. "We were excited to discover that these plants can direct their own seeds via wind or water," says Soons. "It appears that plants are really quite 'smart'."
Previous studies of animal-dispersed plant species showed that this mode of transportation may be very efficient for plants. Animals may purposely or accidentally pick up seeds and deposit them at another site when they are moving. For example, in earlier studies Soons and colleagues quantified how seeds of wetland plants are ingested by ducks in one pond and excreted after a couple of hours in the next pond visited by the bird on its nocturnal foraging trip. In this way, seeds are transported between wetlands and to new sites that are suitable for the plant species to grow in.
Nieske Vergunst | EurekAlert!
Channels for the Supply of Energy
19.11.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Vine Compound Starves Cancer Cells
19.11.2018 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
19.11.2018 | Science Education
19.11.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
19.11.2018 | Life Sciences