If you're a couch potato, you might not pay much attention to the clock, but plants really do. According to recent research, plants not only possess similar traits to the circadian rhythms that people have, but every cell in a plant's body appears to keep track of time. This is crucial for helping the plant determine when to prepare for photosynthesis, when to produce nectar, and when to protect itself from the hot sun.
Through a process known as self-organization, each cell is able to communicate with nearby cells and keep their "clocks" synchronized, much like the way a flock of birds organizes itself through individual members coordinating with neighbors. The researchers believe this mode of communication might explain how different parts of a plant can make decisions despite not having a brain to organize things. For example, roots can work together to grow toward water, while shoots can reach for sunlight together.
It's not easy being green:
- Mankind has destroyed about 80 percent of the forests that covered the Earth only 8,000 years ago.
- Although the world offers more than 80,000 species of edible plants, 90 percent of what we eat comes from just 30 of them.
- It's estimated that nearly 70 percent of the world's plants are in danger of going extinct in the relatively near future.