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Nitrogen Fixation/What Plants "Want" (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 09:32:04 -0800 (PST)
From: A. Inniss <andrewi at u_washington.edu>
To: Aquatic Plants Digest <Aquatic-Plants-Owner at actwin_com>
Cc: Aquatic-Plants at actwin_com
Subject: Nitrogen Fixation/What Plants "Want"
> Roger's arguments come perilously close to such statements as, e.g. "roots
> seek out and crack water lines and sewers." There is no malevolent
> subterranean intelligence operating. With plants, there is no intelligence at
> all. No reasoning. No decision making. Plants do what plants do because they
> are plants. The plants that exist today are here and alive solely because
> their particular DNA programs cell divisions and differentiations that result
> in mechanical structures that are favorable to life. They do not have hearts,
> they do not think. All living things could be said to "expend energy," as
> that is at the heart of what "life" is. Life, at least temporarily, violates
> entropy. Temporarily.
> IOW, I concede that plants "expend energy," but I do NOT concede that they do
> this with any purpose. Wind is NOT caused by trees waving their leaves.
> Deciduous woody plants do not shed their leaves in Fall because "they know
> winter is coming." The abcission layers form as a result of either or both of
> two stimuli, day length and / or temperature. The stimuli cause chemical
> changes in cell contents, not a decision on the part of the plant. Both
> Christmas Cactus and Chrysanthemums bloom because of the length of the day.
> (more accurately, the length of the NIGHT. :-))
Jean, I think Roger's statement, which you quote above, was a
rhetorical thrust. Sure, rhetoric be damned you might say, and the
"Pathetic Fallacy" is aptly named a fallacy,
and for the good reasons you point out; however, I think Roger's overall
point was intended to disabuse the notion that plants don't actively
expend energy "performing functions" such as fulfilling their "need" to
move oxygen to their roots via aerenchyma ;-).
As for it being just a matter of cells responding to stimuli,
that's what humans are <g>.
> I do not know if Scientific studies have been done, but it is "folk
> knowledge," which appears to be backed up with hundreds of years of "field
> experience" that Blue Green Algae fix Nitrogen in Rice Paddies. IOW, if you
> have a good growth of algae, you get a good yield of rice, and vice - versa.
> This is in adjacent fields, apparently otherwise identical, and is apparently
> a worldwide phenomenon. (Including here in the USA for Communes, etc., in the
There was an interesting article in Scientific American a few
months back entitled something like "The Nitrogen Cycle and Global
Population" which touches on, among other interesting points, nitrogen
fixation. People might find it a stimulating read.
Gotta run, my plants are calling ;-)!