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Plant Behaviour and Intelligence$
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Anthony Trewavas

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199539543

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199539543.001.0001

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Self-organization: cambium as the integration assessor

Self-organization: cambium as the integration assessor

(p.105) Chapter 11 Self-organization: cambium as the integration assessor
Plant Behaviour and Intelligence

Anthony Trewavas

Oxford University Press

Self-organising systems are common in biology. Plants are self-organising systems using communication between their constituent cells and tissues to generate organisation. Thus order in plant development results from bottom up construction rather than top down. Communication in plants occurs by both competition and cooperation dependent on circumstances. Communication through the vascular system provides examples of both types. The behaviour of a simple two shoot system derived from young legume seedlings in which competition clearly occurs between the two shoots is described. Whichever shoot becomes the most vigorous enables it to retain its competitive ability. A less vigorous shoot can become the most vigorous, if the original most vigorous shoot is restrained for several days. The cambium acts to dynamically alter vascular strand number responding to the requirements of vigorous shoots for more root resources and to decrease the active vascular strands for those less vigorous. Since the cambial cells are in communication with each other and form an inner skin underneath the bark, the cambium can act to demarcate the numbers of active vascular elements to all branches or roots. It can therefore act as an integration assessor. The mechanisms involved may be simple feedback although comparisons between different branches also have to be made. Evidence for cambial integration is presented from observations on trees that experience a gravitropic signal. Different sides of the tree generate different kinds of cell to enhance the rate of regaining the vertical. Tension and compression as signals are indicated.

Keywords:   Cambium, Small world, Internal competition, Vascular strand numbers

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