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EdEarl

'Chameleon' Vine Discovered

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sciencemag.org

[animals do it but there are] Fewer examples of mimicry—or crypsis—are known for plants. But as in some mistletoe species in Australia, all of these imposters copy only one other species. That’s not the case with the woody vine Boquila trifoliolata, which transforms its leaves to copy a variety of host trees. Native to Chile and Argentina, B. trifoliolata is the first plant shown to imitate several hosts. It is a rare quality—known as a mimetic polymorphism—that was previously observed only in butterflies, according to this study, published today in Current Biology.

This sounds like a tall tale. But, if reported in Biology, it should be true.

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how do you know that the inate intention is mimicry and not accidental genes being expressed that give it a better chance of survival because it is then made to look like unpleasent or poisonous species

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how do you know that the inate intention is mimicry and not accidental genes being expressed that give it a better chance of survival because it is then made to look like unpleasent or poisonous species

Neither Ed nor the article invoke intention. What gave you that idea?

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It can change based on the tree.

screen-shot-2014-04-26-at-6-52-20-am.png

Vine leaves are labeled V, the host tree leaves are labeled T.

Really is pretty cool. Might yield some practical benefits as well if we can figure out how it works.

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It can change based on the tree.

Is that a reply to my question to noxid? Do you mean to imply 'intention' because the change is variable? I'm confused by your reply.

...

Really is pretty cool. Might yield some practical benefits as well if we can figure out how it works.

It is pretty cool. While not a mimic even once that I'm aware of, English Ivy vines change their leaf shape when they reach a certain height*, whether that's on a tree or not. It is only at these heights and with the leaf change that the plant produces flowers & fruit. Not sure what adaptive advantage the leaf shape change affords the ivy; perhaps it reduces wind forces.

 

*Edit:

...The leaves are alternate, 50–100 mm long, with a 15–20 mm petiole; they are of two types, with palmately five-lobed juvenile leaves on creeping and climbing stems, and unlobed cordate adult leaves on fertile flowering stems exposed to full sun, usually high in the crowns of trees or the top of rock faces. ...

source: >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Ivy Edited by Acme

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Was a response to Noxid.

 

Didn't mean to imply conscious intent.

 

Probably Boquila trifoliolata senses the nearest host plant's volatiles and then based on past selective pressures encoded in the DNA modifies leaf growth.

 

The specificity and obviousness of the response is unusual. In the near term might help us understand volatile sensing and down the line how to tap into the system. Gain the defenses of more natural ecosystems for our fields. More radically you might have plants alter characteristics on the fly.

 

I know I've seen Ivy around. Not as familiar with it as I am with our other naturalized plants though.

Edited by Endy0816

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Was a response to Noxid.

Didn't mean to imply conscious intent.

10-4

 

Probably Boquila trifoliolata senses the nearest host plant's volatiles and then based on past selective pressures encoded in the DNA modifies leaf growth.

The linked article concludes with similar thoughts.

... The vines could read cues hidden in odors, or chemicals secreted by trees or microbes may transport gene-activating signals between the fraud and the host, the researchers say. ...

The specificity and obviousness of the response is unusual. In the near term might help us understand volatile sensing and down the line how to tap into the system. Gain the defenses of more natural ecosystems for our fields. More radically you might alter plant characteristics on the fly.

Sounds very promising fo shizzle. :)

 

I know I've seen Ivy around. Not as familiar with it as I am with our other naturalized plants though.

English Ivy is invasive here in Washington state and classified as a Class C noxious weed.

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