The global trend in plant twining direction

Edwards, Will, Moles, Angela T., and Franks, Peter (2007) The global trend in plant twining direction. Global Ecology and Biogeography , 16 (6). pp. 795-800.

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Aim: To examine, at a global scale, patterns in the direction in which climbing plants twine. We tested three hypotheses: (1) that twining direction is determined randomly; (2) that twining direction is determined by apices following the apparent movement of the sun across the sky; and (3) that twining direction is determined by the Coriolis effect.

Location: Seventeen sites spanning nine countries, both hemispheres and 65° of latitude.

Methods: Twining direction was recorded for the first c. 100 stems encountered along transects through natural vegetation at each site.

Results: Ninety-two per cent of the 1485 twining stems we recorded grew in right-handed helices, i.e. they twined in an anticlockwise direction. This is significantly (P < 0.001) different from random. The proportion of stems twining right-handedly (anticlockwise) was independent of both latitude (P = 0.33) and hemisphere (P = 0.63). These data are inconsistent with the idea that twining direction is determined by either the relative passage of the sun through the celestial sphere or by the Coriolis effect. Thus, we reject all three of our hypotheses.

Main conclusions: The predominance of right-handed helical growth in climbing plants cannot be explained by hypotheses attempting to link plant growth behaviour and global location. One alternative hypothesis for our findings is that the widespread phenomenon of anticlockwise twining arises as a function of microtubule orientation operating at a subcellular level.

Item ID: 2337
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1466-8238
Keywords: chirality; climbing plants; Coriolis; lianes; microtubules; twining; vines
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Date Deposited: 07 May 2009 03:24
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0699 Other Biological Sciences > 069999 Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified @ 60%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060302 Biogeography and Phylogeography @ 40%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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