Decoding the Secret Life of Violet
1. Innovations in Water-use and the Plant Reproduction in Motion
Plants are phenomenal hydraulic engineers. Ingenious water-use of plants orchestrates various adaptive behaviors in the plant life-history. Understanding water-use in plants is thus at the heart of plant adaptation to heterogeneous terrestrial habitats, and is a major input of productivity in agricultural contexts. Hygroscopic movement is a plant behavior, which is actuated as plant tissues experience changes in hydration levels. The mechanism elaborates a large array of fast motions (ranging from millisecond to hour time scales) detected broadly across the kingdom Plantae. Many seed dispersal mechanisms in plants involve the hygroscopic movement of dispersal apparatus to develop a force driving explosive seed projection, and the hydro-actuated plant movement involves intricate control of vascular water flow and cellular actuators that translate changing hydration status into the macroscopic organ movement, posing a wide application in the agricultural and material engineering. Using cutting-edge technologies in genomics, molecular biology, computational sciences, and microscopy and imaging analysis, we aim to decipher the features that prompted the hydro-actuated seed dispersal mechanisms in Viola.
Figure 1. Ballistic seed dispersal in Viola. (A) Viola as a model system. (B) Ultraspeed videography of ballistic seed dispersal in Viola.