Puting physiology into context


This week I have been trying to draw connections between exactly how plants respond to changes in light and what that means for their ability to grow, survive, and reproduce. It comes down to a scaling issue, and it's not as straightforward as you might think. Below is a picture I took of a gap in the tree canopy. How much ilght gets to the forest floor depends on the number and size of gaps in the tree canopy above, although some diffuse light always gets through (and is also really important). So it's not just the quantity of light but the quality of light that goes into the leaves, hits the machinery (chloroplasts), and eventualy spits out carbohydrates.

I almost see it play out like a movie, all the light particles and carbon based molecules getting shifted around and merging with one another to create different molecules that are more useful to the plant. Although deep down, I am fascinated by how plants respond to changing environments on a macroscopic scale, further down I truly appreciate the complexities of the microscopic machinery necessary to bring about those macroscopic responses. In any case, it's a story that is only now starting to really come together in my mind and I hope to continue exploring and developing that story throughout my career...

canopy gap.JPG


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