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The walk and jump of Equisetum spores

Abstract : Equisetum plants (horsetails) reproduce by producing tiny spherical spores that are typically 50 µm in diameter. The spores have four elaters, which are flexible ribbon-like appendages that are initially wrapped around the main spore body and that deploy upon drying or fold back in humid air. If elaters are believed to help dispersal, the exact mechanism for spore motion remains unclear in the literature. In this manuscript, we present observations of the ‘walks’ and ‘jumps’ of Equisetum spores, which are novel types of spore locomotion mechanisms compared to the ones of other spores. Walks are driven by humidity cycles, each cycle inducing a small step in a random direction. The dispersal range from the walk is limited, but the walk provides key steps to either exit the sporangium or to reorient and refold. Jumps occur when the spores suddenly thrust themselves after being tightly folded. They result in a very efficient dispersal: even spores jumping from the ground can catch the wind again, whereas non-jumping spores stay on the ground. The understanding of these movements, which are solely driven by humidity variations, conveys biomimetic inspiration for a new class of self-propelled objects.
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https://hal.univ-grenoble-alpes.fr/hal-01082220
Contributeur : Philippe Marmottant <>
Soumis le : jeudi 13 novembre 2014 - 06:35:41
Dernière modification le : mercredi 15 juillet 2020 - 09:28:02
Archivage à long terme le : : lundi 16 février 2015 - 15:05:49

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P. Marmottant, A. Ponomarenko, D. Bienaime. The walk and jump of Equisetum spores. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Royal Society, The, 2014, 280 (1770), pp.1286 - 20131465. ⟨10.1098/rspb.2013.1465⟩. ⟨hal-01082220⟩

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