Trees Move When They Sleep

When researchers from Denmark and Hungary studied twenty-two individual tree and shrub species by scanning them overnight under strictly controlled conditions they were surprised by the results.

“We detected a previously unknown periodic movement of up to one centimeter in cycles of two to six hours. The movement has to be connected to variations in water pressure within the plants, and this effectively means that the tree is pumping. Water transport is not just a steady-state flow, as we previously assumed,” said postdoc András Zlinszky at Aarhus University, department of Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity.

There is a very practical purpose to this research. “We believe that detection of anomalies of overnight movement could become an efficient diagnostic tool to reveal stress or disease in crops. This would open up for early intervention, which is not only cost efficient but also more environmentally friendly,” said Anders S. Barfod, Associate Professor at Aarhus University, Department of Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity.

 

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