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Light to the roots (and moving day for me)

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Hello, I must be going! My time at Aleteia is almost up. I’m striking out on my own, right after one last “What’s For Supper?” post tomorrow. After that, you can find me on my new blog (which is oh so under construction. Work while you walk, right?). I’ll have my archives there soon, and I’ll continue blogging five days a week; and soon I’ll be adding a weekly podcast. I’m also delighted to announce that I’ve begun blogging for The Catholic Weekly. I hope you’ll come see me in my new digs!

How I love Aleteia. The other day, I came across this little science tidbit: Plants ‘see’ underground by channeling light to their roots. Researchers discovered that

the plant stem acts like a fibre-optic cable, conducting light down to receptors in the roots known as phytochromes. These trigger the production of a protein called HY5, which promotes healthy root growth.

When the plants were engineered to have phytochrome mutations, HY5 production declined. And when they had HY5 mutations, their roots became stunted and strangely angled.

It’s not just that light triggers the production of some kind of chemical, causing roots to grow. The light itself, they think, is actually sent down under the ground, down through the roots.

[T]he researchers attached a light source to the stem of plants via an optical fibre. An underground detector at the end of the roots confirmed that light was transmitted through.

How do you like that? It’s not a terribly bright light, by above-ground standards. Grubs and worms aren’t frolicking around in a splendid, hidden ballroom of brilliance. But it’s light enough, and it’s being sent where it counts, where it’s desperately needed.

This is Aleteia’s mission: to send lights down to the roots. God knows the roots need it. It’s been a true honor to be a part of this work.

***

Image by Joy Stamp via Unsplash

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