NEuste Publikationen

Protecting Offspring Against Fire:Lessons From Banksia Seed Pods

Huss, J. C., Fratzl, P., Dunlop, J. W. C., Merritt, D. J., Miller, B. P., Eder, M. Frontiers in Plant Science, 10, 283, 2019 (doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.00283)

Huss et al

Wildfires are a natural component in many terrestrial ecosystems and often play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity, particularly in the fire-prone regions of Australia. A prime example of plants that are able to persist in these regions is the genus Banksia. Most Banksia species that occur in fire-prone regions produce woody seed pods (follicles), which open during or soon after fire to release seeds into the post-fire environment. For population persistence, many Banksia species depend on recruitment from these canopy-stored seeds. Therefore, it is critical that their seeds are protected from heat and rapid oxidation during fire. Here, we show how different species of Banksia protect their seeds inside follicles while simultaneously opening up when experiencing fire. The ability of the follicles to protect seeds from heat is demonstrated by intense 180 s experimental burns, in which the maximum temperatures near the seeds ranged from ∼75◦C for B. serrata to ∼90◦C for B. prionotes and ∼95◦C for B. candolleana, contrasting with the mean surface temperature of ∼450◦C. Many seeds of native Australian plants, including those of Banksia, are able to survive these temperatures. Structural analysis of individual follicles from these three Banksia species demonstrates that all of them rely on a multicomponent system, consisting of two valves, a porous separator and a thin layer of air surrounding the seeds. The particular geometric arrangement of these components determines the rate of heat transfer more than the tissue properties alone, revealing that a strong embedment into the central rachis can compensate for thin follicle valves. Furthermore, we highlight the role of the separator as an important thermal insulator. Our study suggests that the genus Banksia employs a variety of combinations in terms of follicle size, valve thickness, composition and geometric arrangement to effectively protect canopy-stored seeds during fire.

Organic Molecule Driven Actuators

Lin, H., Zhang, S., Xiao, Y., Zhang, C., Zhu, J., Dunlop, J. W. C., and Yuan, J., Macromolecular Rapid Communications, 1800896, 2019. (DOI: 10.1002/marc.201800896)

lin et al

Inspired by the motions of plant tissues in response to external stimuli, significant attention has been devoted to the development of actuating poly- meric materials. In particular, polymeric actuators driven by organic molecules have been designed due to their combined superiorities of tunable functional monomers, designable chemical structures, and variable structural anisot- ropy. Here, the recent progress is summarized in terms of material synthesis, structure design, polymer–solvent interaction, and actuating performance. In addition, various possibilities for practical applications, including the abilityto sense chemical vapors and solvent isomers, and future directions to satisfy the requirement of sensing and smart systems are also highlighted.

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