What in general prevents plants from rotting while they are alive?

  1. What in general prevents plants from rotting while they are alive?

    Do plants that go dormant in the winter need to spend energy to maintain a defense, say a flower bulb?

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Plants have a very complex immune system, even in dormancy this will be active to some extent

    The plant immune system
    Jonathan D. G. Jones1 & Jeffery L. Dangl2
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v444/n7117/full/nature05286.html

     
  4. Thank you! When you say "active to some extent" can I assume that to be active, if at a lower state, requires energy to do so?

    Thank again!
     
  5. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Of course. In dormancy metabolic activity is minimised but it still exists.
     
  6. Neat video showing a type of plant defense by cell suicide. Skip to about minute 4:00 to see plant cell explode, (die).

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  7. Of course, it is "the" big new thing now, so I also point out that the microbiome (ecology/environment) of each plant will also tend to preserve status quo, which implies current symbiotic/parasitic relationships will be resistant to change.
    Can you assume activity implies work? Oh my! Either that or magic foo-foo dust. Hello?
    Actually, the diffusion of a small molecule (or small protein) is an entropy driven event which I would consider a passive form of resistance if the chemical exhibited antimicrobiological activity in vivo. Various diffusion and capillary process are driven by potential energy differences and physical processes rather than requiring use of cellular energy (ATP, sugars, etc.).
    Generally (unless one is discussing cosmology) one should assume the the Law of the Conservation of Energy (for closed, isolated systems) holds exactly and universally.
    I should also point out that "rotting" might involve apoptisis which can be part of normal healthy plant metabolic (healing) activity.
     
  8. jim mcnamara

    jim mcnamara 1,553
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    In a sense trees may rot while they are alive. Heart rot, for example in Pinus ponderosa, occurs in older tress with large heartwood areas. Heartwood is effectively dead - xylem cells there do not have cytoplasm. But phtyochemicals deposited there earlier resist rot fungi. For a while. Succesive fungi attacks are more successful and result in a large void forming in the lower trunk. This is the origin of hollow living trees.

    Large sections of bristlecone pine trees (4K years old) are missing or crumbling due to rot.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinus_longaeva
     
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