In the lab, scientists are now trying to unravel how a species of plant interacts with its environment.
The answer might lie in the way a plant responds to light.
As we see in a new paper published in the journal Science Advances, plants respond to the sun by releasing a chemical called retinal, which is then absorbed by cells.
Retinal has long been thought to be involved in vision, but it’s now clear that retinal has a wider role in how cells respond to light in the brain.
As the researchers note in their paper, retinal can be found in a range of plant tissues and organs.
And because the retina is a part of the cell’s outer layer, the researchers were able to isolate retinal from a single plant.
To do this, the team first removed the plant’s outermost layer of cells, known as the photoreceptor layer.
Next, they separated the photoresceptors into separate sections, and then cut them into sections.
The resulting cells then showed signs of being retinal.
As part of their work, the scientists used the same technology they used to separate retinal cells from each other to grow two different kinds of photoreceptors.
They then measured how much light they received from the two photorecordings, and compared that to how much of that light the plant absorbed.
The results showed that the plant that was more retinal absorbed more light.
The team then used this retinal-absorbing data to test whether plants can use retinal as a signal to another part of its cell’s anatomy.
As they put it, “we found that the phototransduction pathways of the retinal pathway work in concert with the retinoic acid-induced activation of phototactic genes in the cells.”
In their lab experiments, the authors found that when the plants exposed to a short wavelength of light responded in the same way to retinal that they did to light at the lower wavelength, they produced retinal in their cells.
But when the plant was exposed to light that was much longer, its retinal response decreased.
The next step in this research is to identify whether the plant responds differently to different wavelengths of light.
It could mean that plants have a different sensitivity to the light they receive, or that they have a greater capacity to use retinoid receptors.
Either way, retinoids could have important applications for vision therapy, because it’s believed that the retinotopic system, which uses light to trigger phototaxis, could be used to detect cancerous cells in the retina.