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Diurnal and ultradiurnal oscillations of growing organs within the framework of the information system of the plant

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The analysis of growth and movements of seedling organs of kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) provides a pattern of periodic phases of activity and relaxation. The existence of a central organ which would control the phase relationships, is not anticipated in the integrity of the plant. The cyclic activity of individual organs shows itself by growth associated with oscillation movements. One and the same organ may simultaneously accomplish oscillatory movements with a diurnal and ultradiurnal frequency. These rhythms originate during the organ development; the first pair of kidney bean leaves at first executes oscillation movements with a diurnal frequency and only after it is fully developed it exhibits a diurnal cycle with the photophil phase upwards and the scotophil downwards, the oscillations with an ultradiurnal oycle being maintained. The movements of the two leaves are synchronous, but there occur short sections with a desynchronous cycle. Simultaneously with these oscillations, in which the leaf petiole takes part, the adult leaf performs oscillatory movements perpendicular to the longitudinal leaf axis, the so-called side swings, controlled by periodical changes of the joint attaching the leaf blade. Their frequency is practically identical with that of the ultradiurnal cycle. Thus the periodic growth activity of the kidney bean results in growth oscillations passing in the diurnal cycle with a frequency of 0.043 rev.h-1, their ascending and descending phases consisting of periodical ultradiurnal oscillations in cycles of 0.73–0.59 rev.h-1. The epicotyl growth shows a similar pattern: into the basic diurnal nutation cycle with a frequency of 0.042 rev.h-1 ultradiurnal oscillation cycles are incorporated having a similar frequency to that revealed in leaves (0.69–0.64 rev.h-1). The diurnal oscillatory cycles belong to a system established on the basis of periodicity of day and night and other geophysical cycles. The ultradiurnal rhythmic oscillations are presumed to be an expression of the geocontrol system of root and shoot growth direction and orientation of the organ in space. The shape of their trajectories in bean leaves is contradictory to this; they are not spatial helices, as the kybernetic model would presuppose, but have a vertical, upwards and downwards course in one plane. Since these oscillatory movements with an ultradiurnal cycle cease after petiole excision from the stem and after shoot apex amputation, one may presume that they are coupled with the low-frequency oscillatory system of the epicotyl.

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Correspondence to M. Spurný or Dana Konečná.

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Spurný, M., Konečná, D. Diurnal and ultradiurnal oscillations of growing organs within the framework of the information system of the plant. Biol Plant 20, 241–247 (1978).

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Additional index words

  • Growth oscillations of the plant
  • synchronization of the growth activity
  • circumnutation of plant organs