From Where does the shape of the Romanesco cauliflower come?
The mystery of how one of the most peculiar forms of plants, the romanesco cauliflower, was solved by a team of scientists from CNRS1 and Inria in an article published in Journal Science on July 9, 2021.
Thanks to work that combines mathematical modeling & plant biology, scientists were able to find that cauliflower, and Romanescos in particular, they are actually flower buds that were meant to become flower, but they never reach the goal, but become stems and try to produce flowers.
Cauliflower is born from this chain reaction that results in a sequence of stems on stems.
This study shows that briefly immersing the buds in a flowering state profoundly affects their function & allow them, unlike normal stems, enables them to grow leafless & reproduce almost indefinitely. The atypical shape of Romanesco is explained by the fact that its stems are producing buds at an ever faster rate (while the rate of production of the rest of the cauliflower is constant). This acceleration gives each flower a pyramidal appearance and highlights the fractal aspect of the structure.
The study shows how the selection for mutations in plants during the domestication process has in some cases drastically changed their shape in fruit and vegetables on our shelves.
The findings were published in Journal Science.
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