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Are leaves optimally designed for self-support? An investigation on giant monocots.

Abstract : Leaves are the organs that intercept light and create photosynthesis. Efficient light interception is provided by leaves oriented orthogonal to most of the sun rays. Except in the polar regions, this means orthogonal to the direction of acceleration due to gravity, or simply horizontal. The leaves of almost all terrestrial plants grow in a gravity field that tends to bend them downward and therefore may counteract light interception. Plants thus allocate biomass for self-support in order to maintain their leaves horizontal. To compete with other species (inter-species competition), as well as other individuals within the same species (intra-species competition), self-support must be achieved with the least biomass produced. This study examines to what extent leaves are designed to self-support. We show here that a basic mechanical model provides the optimal dimensions of a leaf for light interception and self-support. These results are compared to measurements made on leaves of various giant monocot species, especially palm trees and banana trees. The comparison between experiments and model predictions shows that the longer palms are optimally designed for self-support whereas shorter leaves are shaped predominantly by other parameters of selection. Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Contributor : Denis Roura Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Monday, May 30, 2016 - 2:04:05 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 9, 2022 - 1:42:09 PM

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Loïc Tadrist, Baptiste Darbois-Texier. Are leaves optimally designed for self-support? An investigation on giant monocots.. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 2016, 396, pp.125-131. ⟨10.1016/j.jtbi.2016.02.018⟩. ⟨hal-01323347⟩



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