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Mathematical Framework Explains Diverse Plant Stem Forms

March 26, 2017
image of stems and shoots

Image courtesy of the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS)

It is well known that as plants grow, their stems and shoots respond to outside signals like light and gravity. But if plants all have similar stimuli, why are there so many different stem shapes? Why does a weeping willow grow downwards while nearby poison ivy shoots upwards?

Using simple mathematical ideas, researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) constructed a framework that explains and quantifies the different shapes of plant stems.

The research is published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface...

Continue reading "Why weeping willows bend and poison ivy doesn’t: Mathematical framework explains how a stem's 'sense of self' contributes to shape" by Leah Burrows in the Harvard Gazette, March 23, 2017. http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/03/harvard-researchers-develop-framework-to-explain-shape-of-plant-stems/.