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Young sunflowers follow the sun with help of circadian rhythm: Study
It is a well known fact that young sunflowers follow the sun. They move their buds from east to west during the day and every night, they move back to east from west to be the first ones to see the sun.
Researchers have found out as to how young sunflowers do so. The research paper published in the journal Science has unveiled that sunflowers have a circadian rhythm, an internal clock that could be set to the external world.
In the day, the internal clock sends messages to the eastern side of the stems that makes the sunflowers to lean westward. During night, the message reverses and the sunflower move back to the other side.
Study’s lead researcher Stacey Harmer from University of California-Davis informed that they carried out an experiment in which they first staked the sunflowers so they are unable to move. The flowers were smaller and more vulnerable than their free-moving counterparts.
In the next phase, the researchers placed sunflowers into an indoor growth chamber that were exposed to continuous overhead lighting. The flowers continued to swing back and forth for the first few days. The researchers then came to an idea that there is an internal clock that makes the flowers to move back and forth from east to west.
With time, as the sunflowers grow older, they cease their dancing. Researchers think that the overall growth slows in adulthood as it becomes difficult to move back and forth on daily basis as they used to in younger age.
“The more general point is that one of the circadian clock’s adaptive functions is to regulate the timing and strength of growth responses to environmental signals, is one that I think will apply to a broad range of traits and species”, affirmed the study’s co-researcher Benjamin Blackman.