Monday, June 24, 2013

Plants Make Complex Chemical Calculations

Plants do math. That is right…researchers have found that plants make calculations to determine the amount of food they will need to make it through the night. During the day they convert sun light into sugars and starch but at night they use 95% of that starch by the start of dawn. The rate is variable depending on the length of the evening. The research helps show chemical intelligence.

Using the Arabidopsis plant they found that they take an internal measurement of the amount of starch available and make a measurement of the time needed until day light. They release the starch throughout the evening to create growth. The plants are not doing human calculations but do use chemicals to make this determination of time and starch. Available starch(S) is divided by available Time (T) for maximum growth.

There is a type of chemical division going on that takes starch and separates by hours. The plants even showed the ability to adjust their calculations in the middle of the night. According to researchers at John Innes Centre in Norwich when night came unexpectedly early the plants made a new calculation. They were consistently efficient.

The purpose of this chemical process is to ensure that growth is maximized throughout the dark hours. When starch is low the plants will stop growing and will take a few hours before growing even after dawn has come. Likewise, when starch is not used up the energy they put into conversion is wasted. They seek homeostasis with their environment.

The advantage of such research is that it helps researchers understand better how plants grow. This can lead to better methods of growing crops and food. If the growth rate is variable and plants can adjust to certain conditions it may be possible to adjust conditions to create faster growing food sources in a natural way. 

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