J-F. Louf, G. Guena, E. Badel, Y. Forterre "Universal poroelastic mechanism for hydraulic signals in biomimetic and natural branches" PNAS 114, 11034-11039 (2017)


Plants are sessile organisms  without nerves. As such, they have developed specific mechanisms to carry information rapidly throughout their body in response to mechanical stimuli. Recently, it has been suggested that the first stage of this long-distance signaling could be the propagation of hydraulic signals induced by the mechanical deformation of the plant tissue (bending), but the physical origin of this hydro-mechanical coupling remains a conundrum. Here, we address this issue by combining experiments on natural tree branches and soft biomimetic beams with modeling. We reveal a generic non-linear mechanism responsible for the generation of hydraulic pulses induced by bending in poroelastic branches. Our study gives a physical basis for long-distance communication in plants based on fast hydraulic signals.


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