It’s no secret that plants will grow toward the sun to maximize the amount of energy they can absorb. But while the sun itself drives this process in most plants, it appears that sunflowers have their own internal timekeeper to help them soak up maximal rays throughout the day.
In the video above, you can see how growing sunflowers tilt back and forth each day as the sun rises and sets. But the fascinating part came when researchers from the University of California-Davis brought sunflowers from the field into the lab, under unchanging light: the plants continued their dance for several days.
Therefore, the scientists conclude that some sort of internal mechanism drives sunflowers’ daily motion in addition to the sun, Nature News reports.
Researchers also demonstrated how these sunflowers bend: one side of the stem grows faster than the other. Researchers believe that by examining gene expression on each side of the plant, they may be able to explain how the sunflower’s internal clock works.
They presented their findings this week at the American Society of Plant Biologists meeting in Portland, Ore.