Scientific Results

Plant shoots exhibit synchronized oscillatory motions

Year: 2016

Authors: Ciszak M., Masi E., Baluška F., Mancuso S.

Autors Affiliation: Gonzaga University in Florence, Florence, Italy; CNR-Istituto Nazionale di Ottica, Florence, Italy; Department of Agrifood and Environmental Science, University of Florence, Florence, Italy; Department of Plant Cell Biology Institute of Cellular and Molecular Botany (IZMB), University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany

Abstract: In animals, the ability to move has evolved as an important means of protection from predators and for enhancing nutrient uptake. In the animal kingdom, an individual’s movements may become coordinated with those of other individuals that belong to the same group, which leads, for example, to the beautiful collective patterns that are observed in flocks of birds and schools of fish or in animal migration. Land plants, however, are fixed to the ground, which limits their movement and, apparently, their interactions and collective behaviors. We show that emergent maize plants grown in a group exhibit synchronized oscillatory motions that may be in-phase or anti-phase.
These oscillations occur in short bursts and appear when the leaves rupture from the coleoptile tip. The appearance of these oscillations indicates an abrupt increase in the plant growth rate, which may be associated with a sudden change in the energy uptake for photosynthesis. Our results suggest that plant shoots behave as a complex network of biological oscillators, interacting through biophysical links, e.g. chemical substances or electric signals.


Volume: 9      Pages from: e1238117-1  to: e1238117-6

KeyWords: oscillatory motions; plant shoots; complex network; in-phase synchronization; anti-phase synchronization