Where does the shape of the Romanesco cauliflower come from?

Where does the shape of the Romanesco cauliflower come from?
Photo of a Romanesco. Credit: © Nathanael Prunet

The mystery of the formation of one of the most peculiar plant forms—the Romanesco cauliflower—has been solved by a team of scientists from the CNRS and Inria in an article published on the 9 July in Science.

Thanks to work combining mathematical modeling and , the scientists were able to determine that cauliflowers, and Romanescos in particular, are in fact buds that are designed to become flowers but which never reach their goal. Instead, they develop into stems, which in turn continue trying to produce flowers. The is born from this , resulting in a succession of stems upon stems.

This study shows that the brief incursion of buds into a flowering state profoundly affects their functioning and allows them, unlike normal stems, to grow without leaves and to multiply almost infinitely. The atypical shape of the Romanesco is explained by the fact that its stems produce buds more and more rapidly (whereas the production rate is constant in other cauliflowers). This acceleration gives each floret a pyramidal appearance, making the fractal aspect of the structure clear.

The study highlights how the selection of mutations in plants during the process of domestication has changed their shape, sometimes drastically, into the fruits and vegetables on our shelves.

More information: Cauliflower fractal forms arise from perturbations of floral gene networks, Science (2021). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.abg5999

Journal information: Science

Provided by CNRS

Citation: Where does the shape of the Romanesco cauliflower come from? (2021, July 8) retrieved 17 April 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2021-07-romanesco-cauliflower.html
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