Saturday, June 22, 2013

Plants doing arithmetics

Image BBC Science

Another God, thy thoughts are very deep bookmark Plants 'do maths' to control overnight food supplies
Plants have a built-in capacity to do maths, which helps them regulate food reserves at night, research suggests.

UK scientists say they were "amazed" to find an example of such a sophisticated arithmetic calculation in biology.

Mathematical models show that the amount of starch consumed overnight is calculated by division in a process involving leaf chemicals, a John Innes Centre team reports in e-Life journal.

... The researchers proposed that the process is mediated by the concentrations of two kinds of molecules called "S" for starch and "T" for time.

If the S molecules stimulate starch breakdown, while the T molecules prevent this from happening, then the rate of starch consumption is set by the ratio of S molecules to T molecules. In other words, S divided by T.

"This is the first concrete example in biology of such a sophisticated arithmetic calculation," said mathematical modeller Prof Martin Howard, of the John Innes Centre.

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