Journey of water in pine cones

Kahye Song, Eunseop Yeom, Seung Jun Seo, Kiwoong Kim, Hyejeong Kim, Jae Hong Lim, Sang Joon Lee

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41 Citations (Scopus)


Pine cones fold their scales when it rains to prevent seeds from short-distance dispersal. Given that the scales of pine cones consist of nothing but dead cells, this folding motion is evidently related to structural changes. In this study, the structural characteristics of pine cones are studied on micro-/macro-scale using various imaging instruments. Raindrops fall along the outer scales to the three layers (bract scales, fibers and innermost lignified structure) of inner pine cones. However, not all the layers but only the bract scales get wet and then, most raindrops move to the inner scales. These systems reduce the amount of water used and minimize the time spent on structural changes. The result shows that the pine cones have structural advantages that could influence the efficient motion of pine cones. This study provides new insights to understand the motion of pine cones and would be used to design a novel water transport system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9963
JournalScientific reports
Publication statusPublished - 2015 May 6
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful for the valuable assistance in the X-ray imaging experiments performed at the 6C beamline of the Pohang Accelerator Laboratory (Pohang, Korea) and in-vivo microscopy system lab in POSTECH. This research was financially supported by the Creative Research Initiative (Diagnosis of Biofluid Flow Phenomena and Biomimic Research) of the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea (Contract grant number: 2008-0061991).

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