Chapter 4 - Using water and nutrients: cell growth

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figure

A sequence of superimposed images captures the flower column of a trigger plant (Stylidium crassifolium) as it ‘fires’ in response to a physical stimulus (in nature, an insect). A 1 cm column rotates through more than 200° from a ‘cocked position’ (a) in 10—30 ms to a relaxed position (b) (photographs taken at 2 ms intervals). The kinetic energy manifested in this rapid firing is derived from events controlled at a membrane level. Ions transported into specialised cells cause hydrostatic (turgor) pressure to develop which is suddenly dissipated following mechanical stimulation. Similar rapid movements occur in mimosa (sensitive plant) and some carnivorous plants (Based on Findlay and Findlay 1975)

The almost infinite variety of vegetable forms, which have been grouped into no less than 82,606 distinct species, is formed of but one elementary material, made up of multitudes of little vesicles or bladders, called CELLS. The tissue of which they are composed, when first formed, is called cellulose. The different forms of this TISSUE are held together by a living mucus, a gummy fluid, out of which the tissue itself is made.

(C. Baker, Plants, the Earth and Minerals, mid-nineteenth century)

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