A plant that has been studied in laboratory experiments for 12 years has an organ that scientists only just discovered.
Scientists unveiled their discovery Tuesday, reporting that Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant in the same family as cabbage and mustard greens, produces an organ called a “cantil,” which juts out from the stem like a cantilever.
“If you told me of a new organ in a weird plant in Amazonia, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. What struck me is this happened in Arabidopsis. This is something that’s really surprising,” said Francois Parcy, a biologist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research.
Cantils, the use of which is unknown, form due to unexpected sunlight patterns the plant is exposed to.
Days with shorter sunlight tell Arabidopsis to hoard its nutrients and resources, while longer days tell it to produce flowers. When the plant does not get its signal to switch from storing to expending, the cantil forms.
The organ is “just growing kind of like, ‘Hey, where’s the summer? OK, I’m waiting for my break. Where’s it coming?’” said Pennsylvania State University biologist Timothy Gookin, who was part of the team that reported the discovery.
Researchers prefer to simulate longer days in normal lab conditions to observe the plant’s flowering capability, so the cantil remained hidden in labs worldwide.
Not all varieties of Arabidopsis produce the organ. Some wild types of the plant have lost the ability to produce it because they are accustomed to environments that induce them to produce flowers regularly.
Arabidopsis thaliana is the only plant species known to produce the organ.
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Original Author: Charles Hilu
Original Location: Long-studied lab plant reveals new organ