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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/214

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

penetrate. The attenuated and undifferentiated fungi must seek the shade, to escape the dangers of strong light, against which they have no shield.

The reproductive processes are particularly sensitive to illumination. The formation of zoöspores by green felt (Vaucheria) may occur only in darkness, at night, or in diffuse light, and these examples might be multiplied indefinitely. Many features of the germination of spores and the growth of protonemæ or prothallia among the mosses, liverworts, and ferns are determined by light.

Perhaps the most striking reactions of plants to light are to be seen in locomotor and orientation movements.

Locomotor movements are chiefly confined to lower forms, and are most noticeable in the "swarm spores," or zoöspores of the algse, though exhibited by spermatozoöids as well. Zoöspores may be seen collected against the side of the vessel receiving direct sunlight, while the opposite side of the vessel will be free from them. The chlorophyll bodies of green cells arrange themselves similarly. The latter bodies may move away from the exposed side of the cell if the light exceeds a certain intensity.

The typical plant may not move its body toward or away from the source of light, but it may secure the same end by dispositions of its surfaces to vary the angle at which the rays are received. This form of irritability is one of the most highly developed properties of the plant. Wiesner has found that a seedling of the vetch is sensitive to an amount of light represented by one ten-millionth of a unit represented by a Roscoe-Bunsen flame. The "sensitiveness" to light may take one of three forms: The organ may place its axis parallel and pointing toward the source of the rays, as in stems, when it is said to be proheliotropic; the axis of the organ may assume a position perpendicular to the rays, which is designated as diaheliotropism; or it may place its axis parallel to the rays and pointing away from the light, when it is said to be apheliotropic. Upright stems are proheliotropic, horizontal leaves and creeping stems are diaheliotropic, and roots and such stems as those of ivy are apheliotropic.

Sunlight varies from zero to the full blaze of the noonday sun, and assumes its greatest intensity in the equatorial regions. The intensity in latitudes 40° to 45° north would be represented by 1.5 units, and at the equator by 1.6 units. Near the equator the intensity is so great that an ordinary leaf may not receive the full force of the noonday sun without damage. The injury would not result from the luminous rays, but from the temperatures, 40° to 50° C, arising from the conversion of light into heat. As an adaptation to this condition nearly all leaves have either a pendent or a vertical posi-