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Discovery of the CNRS and the CIRAD : the bark as a muscle

Researchers from Ecofog and LMGC laboratories realised experimentations to understand how plants fights gravity. What are the motor systems that guide the tree to stand straight ?

The study published on 2018, August 4th, in the journal New Phytologist, demonstrates that the shape of trees does not only depend on the internal forces induced in wood. The CIRAD and CNRS provide the evidence that bark is involved in the generation of mechanical stresses in several tree species. Five of the nine species studied have this ability.

To understand how the mechanism is working, researchers at CIRAD and CNRS have grown young tropical tree species, tilted with tutors.

Bruno Clair, from the Ecofog Laboratory, explains in an interview dated 2018, August 8th, in the newspaper Libération that during “this whole period of growth, the tree makes wood and new bark and tries to recover. When the guardian is removed, all the accumulated energy is released and the tree bends to find the vertical. In some species, when we removed the bark, this curvature was canceled and the peeled section became straight again. This verifies that the bark generates forces to straighten the stem. The bark is thus much more than a skeleton.

The forces of the bark result of the particular structure. A juxtaposition of the fibers organised in lattice.
Bruno Clair, Romain Lehnebach and Tancrede Alméras, researchers at Ecofog and LMGC laboratories, were in Montreal last week to present the results of the study at the International Plant Biomechanics Conference.

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© Barbara Ghislain, Ecofog laboratory (CNRS/AgroParisTech/Cirad/Inra/Université de Guyane/Université des Antilles).

 

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© Barbara Ghislain, Ecofog laboratory (CNRS/AgroParisTech/Cirad/Inra/Université de Guyane/Université des Antilles).

 

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