Developmental Fuzz Morphology (BIOE80 Spr2015)

Everyday we observe a plethora of plant life, from trees and bushes to grass and flowers. While they may appear very different on the outside, many of their developmental processes are the same. As plants mature, they go through phases of acquiring different shapes, colors, and textures before they mature into their final form. Since almost every mechanism that plants possess serves some evolutionary purpose, I was curious as to whether the shape and texture of the “fuzz” on fuzzy plants changes in any manner during a species’ penultimate and ultimate forms. I set out and came across a plant which had two different colored buds on it, and, upon further inspection confirmed that its buds changed color with maturity, as its fully-developed (pre-flowering) buds were vibrant red, and its developing buds were much smaller that their red counterparts and were yellow. There were a few medium-sized orange buds present as well, confirming my suspicion about the transition between colors.

Upon analyzing the fuzz I realized that (as one would expect) the two stages of fuzz are not very different, however I notice one significant difference: they both grew with branched structure, but the branches on the red fuzz were beginning to grow in a doubled manner (two branches superimposed/growing out of the same spot). It became evident that this was the case, as the yellow ones had no trace of this doubling, but many of the red ones had already doubled/had a smaller stalk forming.

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Since these were in fact the buds of the flower, my conclusion is that this is some mechanism in which the density of the fuzz increases rapidly so that when the flower blooms, the underside of the flower will prevent non-helpful insects from climbing up the flower and interfering with insects that are helpful to the plant (like bees).

 

Post by Brandon Walker

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