Video: Fast plants

Marvels of evolution and adaptation, plants and fungi have developed myriad methods of spreading their seeds or spores. Some of these dispersal events happen with blinding speed, and researchers are exploring these dramatic behaviors in the world's fastest plants and fungi using ultra-high speed video cameras. Feast your eyes on our smorgasbord of fast-moving, spore-shooting, seed-spreading organisms. Blob begets smaller blob -- meet Sphaerobolus stellatus This is the Sphaerobolus stellatus, c

By | September 10, 2010

Marvels of evolution and adaptation, plants and fungi have developed myriad methods of spreading their seeds or spores. Some of these dispersal events happen with blinding speed, and researchers are exploring these dramatic behaviors in the world's fastest plants and fungi using ultra-high speed video cameras. Feast your eyes on our smorgasbord of fast-moving, spore-shooting, seed-spreading organisms. Blob begets smaller blob -- meet Sphaerobolus stellatus This is the Sphaerobolus stellatus, commonly known as the "cannonball fungus" or "sphere thrower" because of its exceptional ability to shoot its tiny spore ball from a balloon-like "expulsion sack." The fungus grows on decaying wood to a width of about 2.5 mm, and starts out looking like an innocuous white sphere, before it cracks open, revealing its brownish-black spore ball, which can travel up to 18 feet away and 14 feet in the air.
__Video taken at 27,000 frames per second by Nicholas Money.__ Pimple shooter -- meet Ascobolus immersus This fungus projects eight spores at once using a spray of fluid from the plant's spore-bearing cells, which make up the ascus. The spore's flight reaches a maximum acceleration at almost 2,000,000 meters per second squared -- the fastest recorded acceleration in nature.
__Videos taken at 1,000,000 frames per second by Nicholas Money and Mark Fischer.__ (PLoS One, 3(9): e3237, 2008 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003237). Blob on a stick -- meet Pilobolus kleinii Also known as the "hat thrower," this fungus has a translucent-yellowish stalk with a crystal-like head, looking like a scepter for a one-centimeter tall king. The fungus lives on feces from grazing herbivores, like cattle, and during the evenings its spore-producing organs, called fruiting bodies, fill with fluids and become light-sensitive, bending its black spore-cap towards the early morning sun. When the fungus reaches maturity, the pressure inside the bulb breaks the cap away from the fruiting body, shooting the spores up to six feet away.
__Videos recorded by Nicholas Money and Mark Fischer at 50,000 frames per second.__ (PLoS One, 3(9): e3237, 2008 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003237). Snappy stamen -- meet Cornus canadensis Cornus canadensis, commonly known as the bunchberry dogwood, relies on stored elastic energy to shoot pollen from its stamen in less than 0.5 milliseconds. This tiny shrub has small white flowers and green flat leaves, and is one of the fastest-moving plants ever captured on film. When the flowers of the dogwood flip open, they release the plant's stamen, which can accelerate to 24,000 meters per second squared, propelling their pollen up to 2.5 centimeters into the air -- more than ten times the height of the flower.
__Video recorded by Joan Edwards at 10,000 frames per second.__ (Nature, 435:164, 2005 doi:10.1038/435164a). The James Dean of fast plants -- meet Morus abla This plant wants to live fast, die young, and flap its petals around at over half the speed of sound, nearing the theoretical physical limits for movements in plants. The short-lived, fast growing tree, also known as the white mulberry, is native to northern China and is widely cultivated to feed silkworms. The mulberry tree is the fastest moving plant on earth, shooting out pollen from its anthers in a puff of smoke that can travel around 200 meters per second and land up to 6 cm away from the plant. All in a mere 25μs.
__Video recorded by Phillip Taylor at 40,000 frames per second.__ (Sex. plant reprod., 19:19-24, 2006 doi:10.1007/s00497-005-0018-9).
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Video: When peat goes POP;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57571/
[22nd July 2010]*linkurl:They came from above;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/55239/
[December 2008]*linkurl:Flower power in motion;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54634/
[8th May 2008]

Comments

Avatar of: MARC ORBACH

MARC ORBACH

Posts: 1

September 10, 2010

Fungi have developed methods to rapidly "shoot" their spores. But they are not plants and are actually more closely related to animals then plants.
Avatar of: William Winter

William Winter

Posts: 2

September 10, 2010

They are eukaryotes, but neither plant nor animal.\nSurely a group that purports to represent the "Faculty of a 1000" can do better!
Avatar of: donald salter

donald salter

Posts: 5

September 10, 2010

jewel weed seed pods are spring loaded and send developed seeds away from the plant
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 4

September 10, 2010

"Marvels of evolution and adaptation, PLANTS and FUNGI have developed myriad methods of spreading their seeds or spores."\n\n...plants AND fungi... Obviously, authors understand that fungi are not plants. Both groups are known as mostly immobile organisms, so the comparison is quite relevant from this point of view.
Avatar of: Mike Waldrep

Mike Waldrep

Posts: 155

September 10, 2010

Interesting!I hope that everyone has a great weekend and a nice Patriot Day!

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