Happy International Darwin Day!
While Charles Darwin is most known for his work on the theory of evolution and natural selection, did you know that he also performed groundbreaking research in botany? Charles Darwin, along with his son Francis Darwin performed important experiments on the physiological mechanisms behind plant movements outlined in their book “The Power of Movement in Plants”. The Darwins discovered that phototropism, the movement of plants in response to light, was controlled by something located in the tips of growing shoots. By subjecting seedlings with their growing tips intact or with their growing tips removed to light, the Darwins were able to determine that something in the growing tip enabled the plant to respond to the light stimulus. Today, we know that the plant hormone auxin is responsible for phototropism, among other physiological processes, but it was the Darwin’s experiments that revealed that this plant hormone was concentrated in the growing tips of plants and helped to lay the foundation for future plant physiology research!
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