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

  1. Apr 15, 2014 #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. Apr 15, 2014 #2


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    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

  4. Apr 15, 2014 #3
    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. Apr 15, 2014 #4


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    Of course. In dormancy metabolic activity is minimised but it still exists.
  6. Apr 15, 2014 #5
    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. Apr 16, 2014 #6
    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. Apr 16, 2014 #7

    jim mcnamara

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    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.
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