biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow plant gravity

Grappling with Gravity

A problem for plants

There can be no doubt that seedlings know that their roots have to grow down and their stems upward. This awareness of gravity seems to be maintained even in older plants, for if a young tree was lying flat on the ground (perhaps as a result of a storm), but with its roots still anchored in the soil, its tip would slowly bend upward in the months to come. Animals possess gravity receptors, statocysts, ear-stones; if they lack them they use their eyes and perceive the light from above, but plants? Where are their gravity sensors and where are their “eyes”? —>—>

biology zoology blog benno meyer rochow lichen

Lichen’s paradise

The Lichen’s Paradise on Earth: Antarctica

Lichens? Most people if asked what they associate with the word ‘lichens’ may scratch their heads and come up with nothing. Some, however, will think of packing material and decoration used by florists in flower shops. And then there are those, who think of reindeer and other Arctic grazers like musk oxen, snow hare, etc. But I’m thinking of Antarctica as the “continent of the lichen”, a continent without grazers that could harm the lichen. —>—>

Oddballs of the Plant World

Strange, stranger, strangest

Higher plants (and I will probably restrict myself to those that have seeds and are therefore referred to as Spermatophytes) are supposed to have roots, a stem, leaves, flowers and seeds, right? Fungi (mushrooms, toadstools and the like) used to be considered odd plants, but for quite a while now have been given their own “kingdom”, namely that of “Fungi”. Since they are not “autotroph” like plants and with the help of sunlight can turn water and CO2 into sugars and starch, but like animals require food in the form of organic matter, they have more in common with the latter than with the former. Also the fact that fungal cell walls are made of chitin (a carbohydrate typical of, for example, insects and kin, but not plants) and some fungi possess the enzyme collagenase, contain melanin, or are able to produce light, demonstrates that they share more features with animals than plants. —>