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This post is part of the artistic performance The Happening on Instagram.

Post #798:

Published on
Picture in Oberursel

Seeing in the Dark and the Green: How Eyes and Leaves Share a Lighty Secret

The world of biology reveals surprising connections, and the human eye and a seemingly ordinary leaf share a fascinating one. Both organs rely on sophisticated light-sensing mechanisms to function effectively in their environments, despite their vastly different purposes.

Within the human eye, the retina houses two crucial photoreceptor cell types: rods and cones. Rods, responsible for low-light vision, utilize rhodopsin, a specialized protein, to capture even the faintest light signals. Cones, responsible for color vision, rely on various forms of iodopsin to differentiate colors in bright light conditions. Both rhodopsin and iodopsin function by undergoing a shape change upon encountering light, triggering a biochemical cascade that ultimately translates light energy into electrical signals the brain interprets as vision.

Plants exhibit a similar strategy. Nestled within their leaves lies phytochrome, a remarkable molecule that, like its counterparts in the eye, acts as a light receptor. Phytochrome exists in several states depending on the specific wavelengths of light it absorbs. By sensing variations in light intensity and spectrum, phytochrome provides the plant with vital information about its surrounding environment. This information plays a critical role in processes like photosynthesis, where plants utilize sunlight as an energy source, and regulates growth patterns based on light availability.

In both the eye and the plant, the photosensors function together with chromophores: retinal in the eye and phytochromobilin in the plant.

This unexpected parallel between the human eye and the leaf underscores a fundamental principle in biology – the ability to detect light is a powerful evolutionary advantage. By harnessing the power of light, both humans and plants gain the ability to navigate their environments, grow, and thrive.

Species in this post: Common lilac Syringa vulgaris Human Homo sapiens
Topic: ➟ Selfies

This post is part of the artistic performance The Happening on Instagram.

Further information about this art project Related post on Instagram

Creator of this post is Frederic Hilpert

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