Plants do some mathematical tricks to consume proper amount of starch

Professors Martin Howard and Alison Smith. (Credit: Image courtesy of Norwich BioScience Institutes)
Professors Martin Howard and Alison Smith. (Credit: Image courtesy of Norwich BioScience Institutes)

Main Point:

Researchers have reported that plants would go through some accurate mathematical processes to prevent starvation by consuming proper amount of starch at night.

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Study Further:

Plants do mathematical tasks to maintain a constant level of starch in the storage for use throughout the night.

“This is the first concrete example in a fundamental biological process of such a sophisticated arithmetic calculation,” said mathematical modeller Professor Martin Howard from the John Innes Centre.

Researchers noted that mechanisms inside the leaf determine the size of the starch store and measure the span of time, in which the internal clock helps, until dawn. The size of the starch store is then divided by the length of time until dawn to set the correct rate of starch consumption, so that, by dawn, around 95% of starch is used up.

“The calculations are precise so that plants prevent starvation but also make the most efficient use of their food,” said metabolic biologist Professor Alison Smith.

“If the starch store is used too fast, plants will starve and stop growing during the night. If the store is used too slowly, some of it will be wasted.”

This mathematical calculation is important for better life of the plants.

“The capacity to perform arithmetic calculation is vital for plant growth and productivity,” Professor Smith added.

“Understanding how plants continue to grow in the dark could help unlock new ways to boost crop yield.”


 John Innes Centre via EurekAlert


Scialdone et al. (2013). Arabidopsis plants perform arithmetic division to prevent starvation at night eLife, 2 DOI: 10.7554/eLife.00669

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is a sort of entrepreneur. He is the author of "Color Atlas of Statistics", and the owner of an Android game "Faily Rocket."

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