viernes, 30 de agosto de 2013

The secret inner world of plants

ORIGINAL: ABC Australia

Delve deep inside plants to see the tiny cells from which they are built, captured in stunning detail by scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology.
The secret inner world of plants : Plants not only harness the power of our star and use it's energy, they are survivalists. Plants encourage rain, they use physics and chemistry and communicate - they are far more advanced than we once thought.

Quantum coherence: In essence, rather than the energy from a particular photon choosing one route to pass through the photosynthetic system, it travels through multiple channels simultaneously, allowing it to pick the quickest route (See earlier post: http://goo.gl/agp8K )

Capillary action: Sugars produced in leaves diffuse through a network of tube-shaped cells called the phloem. Sugars accelerate as they move, so the bigger the leaves the faster they reach the rest of the plant. But the phloem in stems, branches and the trunk acts as a bottleneck. The major mechanism for long-distance water transport is described by the cohesion-tension theory, whereby the driving force of transport is transpiration, that is, the evaporation of water from the leaf surfaces. Water molecules cohere (stick together), and are pulled up the plant by the tension, or pulling force, exerted by evaporation at the leaf surface. (See earlier post : http://goo.gl/mCmsPL )

Part of the water cycle:
Scientists say the rainforest is critical in generating the streams and rivers that ultimately turn turbines. If trees continue to be felled, the energy produced by one of the world's biggest dams could be cut by a third. The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (See earlier post: http://goo.gl/plP37l )

Plants communicate:
Not just with themselves but with co-dependent species. (See Post Flowers Buzz with electricity : 
http://goo.gl/BUeY8N). Also see information on Grass : http://goo.gl/r0RYtM

Pic Detail:
Plant veins transport water and nutrients to the leaves, where energy from the sun is used to convert carbon dioxide and water into plant sugars and oxygen. The veins then ship the sugars out of the leaf to where they are needed. (Dr Sarah Rich, Plant Biology, UWA)

Main article:
 
http://www.plantcell.org/content/16/7/1650.full

Further reading for the curious

This Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress) plant embryo reveals two leaves and a primary root. Peroxisomes, which break down oils to give the dormant seed the energy boost it needs to become a seedling, have been stained with a green fluorescent dye. Scale: 0.8mm (Simon Law, Whelan Lab)
By using a dye which changes from clear to blue when a particular gene is turned on, this photo reveals which parts of the Arabidopsis thaliana flower are breaking down fat (they're stained blue). Turning fatty molecules into energy is important for flower growth. Scale: 2mm across. (Andrew Wiszniewski, Smith Lab)
It may look like a sea creature, but it's a close up of the female and male parts of a flower (left and right respectively). Pollen grains can be seen in the male anther. The blue areas show the location of genes turned on in response to drought stress. Scale: 0.8mm. (Vindya Uggalla, Whelan Lab)
Flavonoids are pigment molecules that have many roles in plants, including protection from UV rays. By staining this Arabidopsis thaliana embryo, scientists were able to show it could still produce flavonoids, despite a mutation in its DNA. Scale: 0.8mm across. (Andrew Wiszniewski, Smith Lab)
Plant veins transport water and nutrients to the leaves, where energy from the sun is used to convert carbon dioxide and water into plant sugars and oxygen. The veins then ship the sugars out of the leaf to where they are needed. (Dr Sarah Rich, Plant Biology, UWA)
Small root hair cells are sprouting from the primary root of this germinating Arabidopsis thaliana seedling. These hairs provide the root with a greatly increased surface area, aiding in the uptake of water and vital nutrients. Scale: 0.4mm across. (Simon Law, Whelan Lab)
Rather than letting the useful materials go to waste, this plant is pulling them out. The black areas are where this dynamic process is happening. The red blobs are chloroplasts, where sunlight is captured to make energy; the green dots are mitochondria; and the blue areas are cell walls. Scale: 0.291mm across. (Dr Olivier Keech, Smith Lab)
A close up of a poppy flower bud reveals it is covered in tiny hair-like protective structures called trichomes, which provide protection from frost and water loss and can keep predators and pests away. Scale: 30mm across. (Rachel Shingaki-Wells, Millar lab)
The beautiful colours inside this Darwinia leiostyla flower come from pigment molecules called carotenoids. These powerful molecules play an important role in plant development, growth, energy production and cellular protection. Scale: 10mm across (Dr Cathie Colas des Francs, Small Lab)
Arabidopsis thaliana (thale cress) is the lab rat of plant science. Its studied by thousands of scientist around the world because it's easy to grow, highly productive and completes its life cycle in only 6-8 weeks. (Dr Olivier Keech, Smith Lab)
Sugar and proteins are distributed within a plant cell by the actin cytoskeleton - a network of tiny filaments highlighted in this image by fluorescent protein. The oval shaped pores are stomata, which allow carbon dioxide, oxygen and water in and out of the plant. Scale: 0.085mm across. (Dr Olivier Keech, Smith Lab)
When scientists discover a new protein how do they work out what it does? By fusing a green fluorescent protein with the new protein they can track it within the cell - in this case to the endoplasmic reticulum network, a factory that produces and packages proteins and carbohydrates. Scale: 0.072mm. (Botao Zhang, Whelan Lab)

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