In the late 1960 s, a variety of bamboo tree called Mandrake (commonly known as Mainland Chinese bamboo tree or Japanese hardwood) began to flourish. This species originated in China, was introduced to Japan and later to the United States and other countries. And when I say it bloomed, I mean it bloomed everywhere. Despite being thousands of kilo meters away, the botanical forest began to bloom in sync. Like me, if you lose, you probably won’t live to see it happen again. Flowers released pollen in the wind and fertilized plants produced seeds that fell to the ground. All the magnificent bamboo plants that could grow up to 72 feet tall soon died. Its seeds then germinated and released new plants. The new generation is almost 50 years old and still hasn’t grown a single flower. They don’t bloom until around 2090.
This is certainly true, as Chinese scholars have long kept meticulous records. In 999 AD, they recorded the flowering of bamboo tree in mainland China. It was probably an incredible sight, for no one living at the time had ever seen such a flower. The bamboo withered, the seeds sprouted and the forest did not bloom again until 1114. After the species was introduced to Japan, the flowers were recorded by the Japanese in the early 18th century and again between 1844 and 1847. It bloomed in the late 18th century. the 1960s. It was another wave in the 120-year cycle.
An illustration of Chusqueaabietifolia painted in 1885, showing a 32-year flowering cycle. Harvard Erbium Gray Herbarium Library
Her amazing cycle is attractive enough on its own. However, many other types of bamboo also bloom in cycles that last for decades. For example, a species called Bamboos bamboo tree blooms every 32 years. Philostahisno graphic. Chamois is 60 years old.
These cycles intrigued three Harvard biologists and recently tried to find an explanation of how they evolved. In the journal Ecology Letters, they present an intriguing hypothesis. The bamboo cycle has reached a surprising length thanks to a few simple calculations.
Like all scientists, these biologists (Karl Weller, Martin Novak, Charles Davis) stand on the shoulders of giants. Or, in particular, one giant, environmentalist Daniel Janzen, has eagerly discarded a number of creative and influential ideas over the years.
In the mid-1970s, Yangtze came up with an explanation of why bamboo blooms synchronously. He noticed that mice, birds, pigs and other animals eat huge amounts of bamboo seeds. The various ingested offspring represent a potential loss of offspring. If there are enough seed predators and they are hungry enough, they can take the entire set of seeds from the bamboo plant.
Janzen argued that if the bamboo tree plants bloomed at the same time, they would give better results. They loaded the enemy with food. Even if they are packed to full capacity, some seeds are still intact. These surviving seeds have enough time to grow into plants that can protect themselves with tough fibers and bitter chemicals.
When bamboo tree enters the flowering rhythm, it becomes difficult to pull it out. If some bamboo blooms a few years ago, the animal will eat its seeds and their asynchronous genes will not be passed on to future generations.
Other scholars have found that they support Janzen’s ideas. Flooding the enemy with seeds actually reduces the overall damage done to the individual plants by the seed eater. But Weller and his colleagues still had doubts. How did the bamboo plant enter into these beneficial flower cycles? And how do different species result in such long and different flowering rhythms?
Scientists have developed mathematical models based on what is known about bamboo biology. They started with a bamboo grove where almost all plants bloom every year, including some types of bamboo.
However, the population also contained some mutants. It took two years instead of one to flower because they had a mutation in the gene at the time of flowering. Some 2-year-old mutants thrived in even-numbered years, while others prospered in odd-numbered years. Bamboo plants have several advantages when the flowering interval is two years instead of one. The plant may have had more time to harvest more energy from the sun and use it to produce more seeds or protect the seeds from predators. I was able to do it.
The more forests that are in the second grade, the fewer plants that release seeds each year. Finally, Weller and his colleagues discovered that the year will come when bamboo plants will not produce enough seeds to withstand the onslaught of animals each year. They will be destroyed soon. In odd-numbered years, biennial plants in odd-numbered years can also be destroyed. If it is an even year, the plant of the even year will die. In any case, the entire forest is dramatically synchronized with the biannual flowering.
It is also possible that there were not only 2-year-old mutants in the forest, but also mutants that took more than 3 years to flower. Weller and his colleagues have discovered that long-flowering bamboo plants can also dominate mathematical models. Which cycle won was a matter of luck. This is because the number of bamboo seeds produced successfully in a particular year can fluctuate due to weather and other unpredictable conditions. Whichever cycle dominates, the entire forest evolves and stays in sync. As suggested by Janzen, all out-of-sync emissions will be removed.
However, there is one exception. Mutant bamboo plants can develop a new cycle that is a multiple of the original cycle. Imagine a two-year-old bamboo becoming a four-year-old bamboo. It blooms every year and is protected by biennial plants that bloom at the same time. And you have one advantage over them: you can spend more time making more seeds.
Four-year-old flowers take twice as long to sow, but scientists have found that, under the right conditions, they can become increasingly common over the centuries. Eventually, the entire forest will be repaired in a four-year cycle.
But bamboo cannot evolve differently, the scientists found. If a four-year-old forest produces a two-year-old mutant, it will bloom in the middle of the year, with no protection from predators. The only direction it can move is longer cycles. If a 4-year-old forest produces an 8-year-old mutant, it can have the same benefits as a 4-year-old plant initially: well-protected weather.
Weller and his colleagues found they could test this model. Over millions of years, they concluded that this species must have doubled its flowering cycle. It is possible that only a small number of cycles can be increased, not a large number. The transition from a two-year cycle to a 2,000-year cycle requires significant changes in the biology of bamboo plants. Therefore, the number of years in the bamboo cycle must be multiplied by a small number.
Bamboo mathematics provides promising support. For example, Phyllostachys bambusoides has a half-life of 120 years, which is equal to 5 x 3 x 2 x 2 x 2. Phyllostachysnigraf. Chenonis is 60 years old. That’s 5x3x2x2. And the 32-year cycle of Bambus abambos is equivalent to 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2.
Scientists found more support when they looked at how bamboo seeds evolved. This is the evolutionary tree of Madake and related species. Their common ancestor may have had a five-year cycle, after which small items were hung along each branch of the tree.
But isn’t this nonsense bamboo numerology? Is it a coincidence that these species reproduce so gracefully? Weller and colleagues performed a statistical test of bamboo species with a well-established flowering cycle. They found that cycles are densely clustered around numbers that can be broken down into small primes. This is a pattern you don’t expect by accident. In fact, they claim that this test provides very strong evidence for multiplication (for statisticians: p = 0.0041).
There are many opportunities to test this model. Many bamboo species have a long flowering cycle and no one has measured them carefully. Scientists were able to see how the new cycle studied fits into Weller’s model. For example, if a scientist finds a new species of Madake with a 23-year cycle, it is mathematically impossible to evolve from a 5-year ancestor. However, one thing is certain. With this model, if scientists have to sit and watch the bamboo and wait for the flowers to bloom, it will take several generations of scientists to calm down.