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Clever strategy sets photosynthesis off to a flying start

Plants in tropical dry areas have developed an unusual strategy for survival. Instead of using their water supply during the dry season, they hold on to the last drops until the very end in order to quickly get started on photosynthesis as soon as the rainy season has begun.
Trees
Trees in tropical dry areas.

Using satellite technology, researchers have now managed to investigate the storage of water in plants worldwide. The researchers studied how the amount of water in plants varies between different seasons. The current study specifically investigated the relationship between the plants’ water supply and the timing of bud burst.

The results of the study surprised the researchers when it comes to trees in tropical dry areas. The trees in these areas absorb a large amount of water at the end of the rainy season and stores it during the dry season. The large water supplies allow the plants to focus on bud bursting several weeks before the rainy season begins. This way, the leaves are fully developed by the time the rain comes, allowing photosynthesis to take off at maximum speed right away.

“As there is practically no rain at all during the dry period, the pattern seemed a bit contradictory at first”, says Feng Tian, researcher in physical geography at Lund University in Sweden.

The current study was published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Lena Björk Blixt

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