Plant biology in the fourth dimension

Harmer 2010, Plant Physiology


The nature of time has long been an obsession for philosophers, scientists, and laymen. This nearly universal interest in time is encapsulated by the fact that the quotation “Time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once” has been attributed to both Woody Allen and Albert Einstein! Although some argue that time is an illusion, ongoing work has revealed that most organisms possess an internal oscillator, the circadian clock, which has a pervasive influence on growth, development, and responses to the environment. Studies of circadian rhythms in plants reveal that because everything doesn’t happen at once, plants have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to partition physiological processes so that they occur at the most advantageous times, both on seasonal and daily scales.