Noisy circumnutations facilitate self-organized shade avoidance in sunflowers Journal Article uri icon



  • AbstractCircumnutations are widespread in plants and typically associated with exploratory movements, however a quantitative understanding of their role remains elusive. In this study we report, for the first time, the role of noisy circumnutations in facilitating an optimal growth pattern within a crowded group of mutually shading plants. We revisit the problem of self-organization observed for sunflowers, mediated by shade response interactions. Our analysis reveals that circumnutation movements conform to a bounded random walk characterized by a remarkably broad distribution of velocities, covering three orders of magnitude. In motile animal systems such wide distributions of movement velocities are frequently identified with enhancement of behavioral processes, suggesting that circumnutations may serve as a source of functional noise. To test our hypothesis, we developed a parsimonious model of interacting growing disks, informed by experiments, successfully capturing the characteristic dynamics of individual and multiple interacting plants. Employing our simulation framework we examine the role of circumnutations in the system, and find that the observed breadth of the velocity distribution confers advantageous effects by facilitating exploration of potential configurations, leading to an optimized arrangement with minimal shading. These findings represent the first report of functional noise in plant movements, and establishes a theoretical foundation for investigating how plants navigate their environment by employing computational processes such as task-oriented processes, optimization, and active sensing.One sentence summary of paperThe study highlights noisy circumnutations as a strategy plants use for optimizing growth in crowded conditions.

publication date

  • June 13, 2022

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • June 21, 2022 3:21 AM

Full Author List

  • Nguyen C; Dromi I; Kempinski A; Gall GEC; Peleg O; Meroz Y

author count

  • 6

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