Wednesday, June 3, 2020

SearchResearch Challenge (6/10/20): Why do beans and peas grow this way?

I'm growing some beans... 

... in my garden, and I'm slightly amazed at how they grow.  If you've somehow never seen the way a bean or a pea plant grows, it's truly remarkable.  You put them in the ground, and after not very long, they look like this: 

As you can see, the vine is climbing up the bamboo by wrapping itself around the pole.  Eventually, it will climb  to the top (12 feet, 4 meters), and maybe a bit beyond. 

Of course, I have questions, in particular, I'm fascinated by the way the beans are growing up the poles.  They're curling around the pole in the most amazing way.  Here's a closeup of the tip of a bean plant wrapping around a support string:  

This leads me to ask a few Research Questions about how beans and peas do this.  Can you help me figure out what's going on here? 

1. How do the plants find what to climb on?   I mean, they  don't have eyes, so... how do they find the closest support to climb up?  

2. Speaking of which... What part of the plant does the searching for the nearest support? Is there a specific name for this?  

3. How / when does the plant decide to start hunting for support?  My beans didn't seem to start immediately looking for a support, so how do they know when to search?  

4. What do you call this behavior?  (Note: there’s a specific term for a lot of these concepts.. in particular, the movement of a plant wrapping around something for support.) 

5. And... who coined that specific term?  (Can you find the coiner and where it was coined?)  

This should be a fun set of Challenges for you.  It's also great to be thinking about spring, renewal, growth and looking into the future with some optimism.  

Be sure to let us know HOW you found your answers!  (We all want to learn from your discovery process.)  

Search on! 


    This explains pretty much all that you ask about.

    4&5 ; One Charles Darin discoverd the mechanism in his study. He and his son Frank coined cicumnutation to explain how the tip, the control tower as it were determined when something suitable was found in the circulat turning motion of growth, The inner touching the wire cells stop growing and the outside cells continue to grow thus making the Apical tip turn.

    Good start I think. jon tU

  2. I started my search with a very simple search [climbing plant mechanism] (not even using quote marks). This gave several articles - and a few follow ons. There's also been a lot of recent research that has cracked the mechanism e.g. "Scientists unwind the secrets of climbing plants' tendrils"
    in which links to an article in Science - so as reliable as you can get. This link includes the following "When first formed, a tendril is almost straight, and while growing it slowly waves around in a poorly understood process called circumnutation. When it encounters a foothold, the end of the tendril wraps around it, securing a support." This sentence pretty much gave the answers to questions 1-4.

    I then searched for that specific term "circumnutation" and added the term "history" to find out origins. And up came which states 'That oscillating growth pattern was well known to nineteenth century plant scientists as "revolving nutation" until Darwin (Darwin and Darwin, 1880) introduced the terms "circumnutate" and "circumnutation," which are used today.'
    So the answer to question 5 was Charles Darwin and his son Francis, in 1880. The original for this is available at where the Darwins write: "This movement has been called by Sachs "revolving nutation;" but we have found it much more convenient to use the terms circumnutation and circumnutate."

    So around 5 minutes total to find out that Darwin didn't just write about finches and didn't just come up with the Origin of Species. Darwin was also the origin of the word "circumnutation" and wrote about plants and botany too. A real polymath!

    But I still wanted to check a bit more - e.g. the name of the plant part. Although tendril seems to be the part for beans, other climbing plans have hooked leaves. Even plants with tendrils aren't simple as some have secretory adhesive pads to cling to a support e.g. a building while others lack these. (Also found that Darwin was looking at climbing plants even earlier, classifying 5 types based on their attachment mechansm in "On the movements and habits of climbing plants
    Bot. J. Linnean Soc., 9 (1865)" - listed in

    They may sometimes also be called "twining stems" - based on

    There's a Coursera lecture on Circumnutation at that explains how plants actually move, turning in circles / spirals - giving the way Darwin actually studied this and observed it. And a research paper looking at the maths of the motion is at that also gives information - specifically on beans.

  3. Started my search with [plant climbing and while tipping, Google suggested organ] The first hit said: "Synonyms, crossword answers and other related words for PLANT'S CLIMBING ORGAN :tendril.

    To confirm, searched [Tendril] In Spanish: Zarcillo

    Wikipedia Tendril That also gives the 5 answer: "The earliest and most comprehensive study of tendrils was Charles Darwin's" monograph On the Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants, which was originally published in 1865. Also coined: circumnutation and tendril perversion (which is very interesting and even more when we see it every day. Tendrils, article says, twine based on touch perception. In Spanish read that the twine can be counterclockwise or clockwise

    [tendril plant discovery]

    2012: Scientists unwind the secrets of climbing plants' tendrils

    Returned to Wikipedia's article in tendril and clicked climbing plants. There are different ways of climbing

    [how climbing plants select where to climb]

    How Plants Climb Bougainvillea scramblers category (we have made some SRS about them) Stem tendrils or leaf tendrils

    when climbing plants start climbing

    [climbing plants mechanism]

    Climbing Plants: Attachment and the Ascent for Light unicellular hairs (trichomes)

    Out of topic: Clementine fruit history

    1. SRS tried [Plantas trepadoras Ciencia (Climbing plants Science]

      Los movimientos y hábitos de las plantas trepadoras by Charles Darwin Book says: Darwin was interested in the climbing plants after reading: "Note on the coiling of the Tendrils of Plants" by Asa Gray.

      Therefore, searched [Asa Gray] and [Asa Gray tendrils]

      Hugo Von Hohl Here, I found something interesting. Searched on an Ipad and found Hugo. Then, today to write my findings, searching on laptop and in the same book Hugo doesn't appear on the found results. On Ipad says: His first publication, in the year 1827: "Essay on the Structure and Coiling of Tendrils and Twiners". Therefore, I understand that Hugo was first, then came Asa and later Charles.

      After that, I don't understand or know who coined Tendrils. I think that I don't understand Q5

      With [who discovered tendrils] found what Remmij found already: Thigmotropism.

      In Ngram viewer, searched and since 1800 we have tendrils

      Out of Topic Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar) founds new Maya site

      Also learned that some Mexican States, like Zacatecas, have a traditional dish made with rat. Not the rats that live in the city, but the ones that live in the field. I will never try that

    2. [Thigmotropism] Tigmotropismo in Spanish

      [Thigmotropism who coined the term]

      merriam-webster says: The term was introduced by the German physiologist Max Verworn (1863-1921) in Psycho-physiologische Protisten-Studien (Jena, 1889), p. 90.

      [Max Verworn ]

      Searched there for tendril and says: The first known use of tendril was in 1538.

      [when plants look for support]

      Circumnutation behaviour and phenotypic responses to support availability, which may determine the suitable range of support sizes, should show—at least to some extent—environmental and genetic control.

      [Circumnutation in plants]

      About previous SRS, yesterday, I learned that "Over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland was almost cut from The Wizard of Oz.

    3. I was reading about today's game. The return to Camp Nou in Barcelona and they will play before the game
      El canto dela ocells SRS because wanted to know how it sounds. Turns out that I have heard it before. It's very beautiful and , at the same time for me, very sad. Reading about it, made me remember previous SRS Challenges about music. This song is a Christmas song and also Lullaby. This is a surprise because it doesn't sound cheerful.

      Also, trying to be informed about Covid, found these photos

      Thread Masks used in pandemic and in stadiums