Trees are “aware” of their size and adapt by thickening their trunk

To understand how plant stems develop and respond to growing weight by thickening and becoming trunks until the plant itself becomes a tree, a team of researchers has produced a new study to understand more about the so-called “vertical proprioception” theory. It is a mechanism that balances the radial growth of the stem first and the stem with the weight gain of the plant.

Researchers from the University of Helsinki, the University of Cambridge and the Finnish Institute of Natural Resources have analyzed the downy birch (Betula pubescens). The researchers confirm that this tree can regulate the radial growth of the stem in relation to the weight that increases with the growth of the plant and this strength itself changes depending on the length of the stem.

In a way, the researchers’ idea is that plants somehow perceive their weight and size by thickening the stem, as Juan Alonso-Serra of the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences of the University of the Finnish capital suggests.n To confirm this, the researchers analyzed the elimäki trees. It is a birch tree with genetic mutations that grows vertically for three months and then collapses following the bending of the stem. The researchers have shown that, unlike normal trees, the elimäki trees are less stable mechanically because they cannot correctly relate their width to their growing weight and this is due to the genetic mutation.

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