Plant cells

This is an individual exam and all answers are expected to be completely your own work. The questions are designed to synthesize information from different areas of plant biology. Your answers will draw on material covered in multiple lectures to demonstrate that you understand the topics. Each main question is worth a total of 10 points. Note that questions have multiple parts. Feel free to use as much space as you wish to answer.

1. You find a lovely variegated plant in the wild. It has a similar pattern on all of its leaves, the outer edge is white while the inner part of the leaf is a dark green. Describe a plausible cause of this pattern (provide enough detail so I can tell what you mean).


You decide to set up a business selling plants with this pattern. How will you propagate this plant to maintain the variegated pattern? Also discuss some approaches that would not work and explain why.


2. How does a plant cell expand? (include a description of the important parts of a cell for this process and the roles they play).


How does a cell control the direction of its expansion?



Discuss the consequences of water stress (low water availability) on cell expansion.



Plant cells can become very large which can complicate some aspects of their biology. Discus one way in which plant cells can deal with the complications arising from a large volume.


3) You find a plant that seems to respond to light in an unusual way. Leaves that are exposed to direct sunlight grow with an upward curl to them, while leaves that are grown in the dark are flat. You want to understand the cause of this response. First, you do a simple experiment: you grow the plant in specific wavelengths of light. You find that the leaves are flat in all wavelengths except red, where they are curled. You also find that a 30 minute treatment with red light is enough to trigger the response.
Given what we know about photoreceptors involved in other light responses, what is the most likely photoreceptor for detecting light for the leaf curl response? (Explain your reasoning)


How can you test if this photoreceptor is indeed the cause of the curling response? (There is an easy way to do this)


You do some more experiments and find that:
Only actively expanding leaves are able to curl in response to red light exposure (mature leaves don’t curl)
The curling of the leaves is non-reversible (curled leaves don’t flatten and flat leaves don’t curl based on changes in light).
If the light source is positioned to one side, the leaves will curl with their edges directed toward the light.
Based on other environmental responses we have studied, you suspect there is a hormone involved in the leaf curl response. Which hormone do you suspect and how would it regulate leaf curling?

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