Heat producing Philodendron flower

Discussion in 'Araceae' started by ChrisR, May 12, 2008.

  1. ChrisR

    ChrisR Active Member

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    Hi Lorax. No argument over photography here (I didn't think there really was one?) :)

    Yes, I'm sure there would be merit in tracking the beetles. To give you an idea how little is know in this area, when I asked Marc that given the beetles are scared of daylight, where did they live during the day? and where did the pregnant female go to lay her eggs? he replied 'nobody knows' - so if you're going to attach sensors to them Lorax and track them, you'll most likely be the first to make this discovery?

    I'd also imagine the 'lifestyle' (by that I crudely mean how far it wanders) of whatever it is that enjoys eating the plants berries (are there several types of animals?) will also have an impact on the distribution of the plants. I've got a feeling all of this could make a lovely project for someone mathematically inclined. I was going to write a little more about my visit to Kew but I got a bit busy here, but it's done now so I'll add it in as the next post.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2008
  2. ChrisR

    ChrisR Active Member

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    Hi all,

    Kew trip continued... (sorry for the discontinuity - but work got in the way...)

    In his afternoon talk ("Aroid pollination: Floral characters, thermogenesis and odours" ) Marc very kindly included a slide for my benefit taken with a thermal imaging camera. It showed him clearly standing at night next to an open inflorescence, which was nicely hot. The picture was taken at night, from some 15 meters away. In the picture, both Marc and the radiant heat emitted from the spadix were clearly visible against the cooler & darker background. (Just like a lighthouse!)

    Marc mentioned that beyond ~15 meters the inflorescence was no longer visible to the camera. This distance is a function of a particular cameras sensitivity. As was mentioned earlier, most of us have probably seen police helicopter videos taken by the (very costly) onboard thermal imaging systems at several 100 meters in the air, these systems can clearly show the ir/heat (~36c) emitted from the bodies of villains as they vainly attempt to elude capture(!) ;)

    The camera has settings which allow you to artificially colour the image it sees. So for example, you might wish to choose the hottest part to be coloured white (say 43C) and the coolest part (say 20C), as black. Temperatures which fall in between these two limits will be displayed by a variety of other colours. A temperature gradient (a smooth change from one temperature to another) will be displayed as a correspondingly smooth graduation in colour. So something at 35C may be displayed as yellow and something which smoothly changes from 35C to 43C will appear as yellow changing into white. Anything which is at 30C may be displayed as red and finally anything which is at 20C or less will be displayed as black.

    In Marcs picture, parts of him appear white as does the spadix of the plant. Now interestingly, the inside part of the spathe was coloured white just like mine. If this spathe were a good reflector I would expect it to also appear white or certainly at least yellow to the camera. It didn't. It appeared blue.

    This could have been due to the angle from which the photo was taken or it could have been because the spathe just isn't reflective at all. I would like to view the spathe (in infra red) directly from the front & from slightly above (as per attached photo) That will put the camera at the spathes 'focal point' and should easily & immediately show whether it is or isn't reflective. Anyone out there with a flowering Philo and a thermal imaging system?

    On the beetle side, Marc mentioned he had been sent some beetles to examine but they were not good specimens since they were covered in resin (I don't know whether these beetles were dead or alive!) He mentioned that a group of German researchers had recently noted odd pit like structures on the beetles body and that research had begun to discover what these structures were for. If these were infra red sensitive organs then the next step would be in devising suitable experiments with minimum side effects (to both the plant & the beetle) in order to isolate the beetles response (if any) to the plants infra red. Actually quite a tricky task.

    Marc mentioned there was a means of injecting the plant in order to 'switch off' it's heat producing mechanism. So you could imagine a possible experiment with two groups of plants, one with the mechanism switched off and the other with the mechanism intact. How successfully either group was pollinated would be an indication of the beetles sensitivity to infra red. Where the side effects have to be considered (for example) are that by injecting chemical you inadvertently may make one group of plants more (or less) appealing to the beetle through some other process than the one you are attempting to measure. For instance, perhaps the chemical itself may emit a pleasant or noxious odour so far as the beetle is concerned.

    I think there's going to be some wonderful human ingenuity shown here in devising these experiments!

    I'm staying in touch with Marc as I'm very eager to follow research in this area and I understand a student of his will be looking into this further. When I hear anything I'll of course post back here.

    Lastly, as I mentioned to Lorax, just to illustrate how wide open this field is for research work. Given that the beetles do not like light, I asked Marc where the beetles live during the day and where the pregnant(?) female lays her eggs after leaving the plant? 'No one knows', was the answer.
     

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  3. ChrisR

    ChrisR Active Member

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    I knew there was something I'd forgotten to mention... it was with regard to the fully extended position of the spadix.

    Marc mentioned the spadix lies at an angle of ~45 degrees or so to the vertical. I'll leave this to any physicists here to prove, but Marc said that this angle offers the most effective angle for the heated structure to dissipate its volatile oils into the night air.

    I guess it's fairly easy to try this & make this visible by lighting one of those 'josstick' type incense burning sticks a couple of inches below its tip. Then observing the smoke pattern it gives off in still air at 45 degrees to the vertical and also at the vertical.

    Intuition would kind of suggest that at 45 degrees it's going to disperse a lot more smoke (with a good amount of turbulence thrown in for added effectiveness) than when it's vertical.
     

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  4. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Ooh, how neat. I actually know where the beetles go in the daytime because whenever I'm in the forest, I like to find one and have it point me towards the Aroids, which it will do if you pay careful attention. A mature beetle held in the palm of the hand will swivel until it's pointing to the nearest Philo. Then I can put it back in the leaf litter or under the plant where I found it. The big ones like I posted earlier (and again here) tend to do the daytime in the understory, at the base of ferns.

    I'd say that the pits (from my observations at least) on the frontal area of the beetle have great possibility as IR sensors; however the slight pitting along the back of the carapace looks like it's there to be more effective with the "tar and feathers" property of the philos. If you've ever tried to glue things to a very smooth surface, you'll know that it sticks better when you roughen the area where you're gluing. This looks like the same prinicple at work, especially given where the pollen was adhered on the beetle I took out of the Philo inflorescence.

    As for the 45 degree angle thing, this makes excellent sense in terms of scent dispersal as more of the spadix is exposed to the prevailing wind conditions at this angle, making dispersal highly efficient. There is physics to prove this, but it's complicated and I'd rather not post it here; the Joss stick experiment will show you exactly, as you suggested. It also has to do with exposing more of the heat-production area of the spathe for visibility to beetles, which spend a lot of their time crawling about on the ground. I'll draw a little diagram of what I'm talking about on this later and post it.
     

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  5. ChrisR

    ChrisR Active Member

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    That's very interesting info Lorax, the beetles will actually swivel & point to the nearest philo? Amazing! Perhaps they're hoping to escape there from your hand? :)

    I see what you mean about the roughened surface on the beetles back. Have you got any pictures of them coated in pollen? If you do, I'd be very curious to see those. I've felt the goo (between thumb & forefinger) which my plant exuded and it is truly really sticky. It felt a bit like Araldite (epoxy glue) does before it sets.

    The pollen is in fine filaments so I'd imagine these beetles must get completely coated with the stuff? If you want to post your Physics proof please do as I'd love to read it. (Things like this fascinate me) I'm looking forward to seeing your diagram as well!
     
  6. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Jun 15, 2008
  7. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    That one wasn't typical of the little guys I pull out of the leaf mulch - the one in the picture is a dung beetle. However, the pitting on the carapaces is very similar.
     
  8. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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  9. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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  10. BarthJ

    BarthJ New Member

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    Btw, why does the Library of Congress copyright search engine here

    http://cocatalog.loc.gov/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&PAGE=First

    yield nothing under your name?

    Perhaps i'm looking in the wrong place, enlighten me.
     
  11. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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  12. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Threatening legal action strays very far from the point of these forums. I'm not pleased about all of the off-topic postings in this thread. Talk about plants. If you want to tackle other issues, Conversations and Chat or Tech Talk are the places to go.
     
  13. ChrisR

    ChrisR Active Member

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    Daniel, thank you for your intervention & I quite agree.

    This thread is unfortunately in danger of meandering badly off course. This pointless & ongoing posturing by photopro is irrelevant here & shows no signs of abating.

    Steve, with the greatest respect, I suggest you please take your arguments concerning your past resume and what you did or didn't do photographically, outside of this thread & argue about it there. It has no place here. Thank you. Please - let's get back to talking about beetles, infra red, pollination & future research here.
     
  14. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't on here on the weekend so I missed all the cafuffle

    This thread is certainly getting very interesting re the beetles and IR etc.

    Ed
     
  15. ChrisR

    ChrisR Active Member

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    Hi Ed, I think the cafuffle blew out of proportion & unfortunately Steve has deleted all of his postings which is a great pity as there was a lot of good information there.

    As to the IR, most of that is now going to be down to the folk researching the beetles whether the pits on their bodies are IR organs or not. Unfortunately I've neither the means, the beetles or the know-how to do any of that work myself. Also, my plant has finished flowering. So it's 'over to you all'

    I hope it may lead somewhere interesting! :)

    Apparently, my philo would flower twice a year in its native conditions. Marc thought that in the uk (where I am) with less sunlight, that may be once a year.
     
  16. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I'd be in agreement with the once-a-year bloom cycle for your indoor plant; I'd say that the sunlight will be the controlling factor, as will the fact that you don't really give it a "rainy" season and a "dry" season to stimulate the more vigorous bloom cycle. Here in Ecuador, Philos and Anthuriums bloom at the end of the rain cycle, and again at the beginning of it.
     
  17. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    I think it is unfortunate all round, really...

    I hope it leads somewhere also

    Ed
     
  18. asj2008

    asj2008 Active Member

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    It burns starch or lipids to produce that heat.

    Great pics, btw...
     
  19. ChrisR

    ChrisR Active Member

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    many thanks. :)
     
  20. asj2008

    asj2008 Active Member

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    Hi Chris, not sure whether anyone pointed this out below where i'm reading this post, but I think one of the main reasons aroids heat up their reproductive areas is to facilitate the spread of the smell of chemicals that attract insects for pollination. Meconostigma aroids like the one you have can maintain temps of 35 degrees Celsius for prolonged periods of time (P. solimoesense can go up to 14 degress Celsius above room temperature). Here is a paper on it:

    http://www.edb.ups-tlse.fr/equipe3/MG/publis/thermo.pdf

    That being said, I think the hypothesis that IR produced by thermogenesis could aid in attracting insects is an intriguing one. One obvious test would be to enclose the plant so that smells cannot pass through and then see whether IR produced by the plant can still attract insects.
     
  21. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Oh, like saran-wrapping the spadix for the anthesis period or somesuch? That would definitely bear investigation!
     
  22. asj2008

    asj2008 Active Member

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    Yep, something like that....

    This way we can isolate the two variables, smell and light.
     
  23. LariAnn

    LariAnn Active Member

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    Reading this thread and recalling my experiences in hybridizing Philodendrons has me thinking - I've had much better success in seed set when I mix the fresh pollen with some water before pressing it onto the receptive pistillate flowers. The spadix is hot when I'm doing this. If the pollen germinates better when moistened, then perhaps the warm spadix environment is perceived by the beetles as a warm desirable refuge from the cool wetness of the rain forest in the evening. I also notice more fragrance at female anthesis than at male anthesis, so the two (odor and heat) may work in tandem to encourage successful pollination.

    LariAnn
    Aroidia Research
     
  24. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    Interesting method and interesting observation LariAnn

    Ed
     
  25. pygmepalm

    pygmepalm Member

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    Thank you for clearing up what "they" are.

    I got a little tiny seedling from my brother's plant in NJ.

    We named him "Little Mikie" (after my brother).

    He was a house plant for the longest time. Then we moved to Florida 4 years ago and I had him transplanted into the ground outside our screened lanai. Needless to say Little Mikie isn't so little anymore. He is getting huge. I keep trying to get him to grow up the palm tree, but he seems to just grow legs and walk around the garden.

    I will try to post some photos, but he has made a lot of those things this year. at least 15 of them. Thanks again for helping me figure out what they are!
     

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