Thomas' Plant-Related Blog

On plant science. Mostly.

How ivy hangs on

leave a comment »

German scientists studying ivy (Hedera helix) have shown that its roots stick to things in four distinct steps:

  1. Initial contact
  2. Roots grow onto the surface, and lignify (get tougher).
  3. Roots produce glue, which seems to react with the surface.
  4. Tiny root hairs anchor the root to any minute crevices in the surface.

There’s quite a bit more about how the root hairs manage the final step. Their walls are structured so that, as a root hair dies and dries out, it coils up, catching on any irregularities and pulling the root in to the surface. If you’ve got access to the paper, have a look at the electron micrographs (unfortunately I can’t put them up here).

Sources:

English ivy’s climbing secrets revealed by scientists, BBC News, 28 May 2010

Melzer, B. et al. (2010) The attachment strategy of English ivy: a complex mechanism acting on several hierarchical levels, Interface, doi: 10.1098/​ rsif.2010.0140

Advertisements

Written by Thomas Kluyver

1 June, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: