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How Flowers get their Shape


Yes, the title of this blog sounds like the name of a Rudyard Kipling story, but in fact it's the story of a remarkable scientific discovery. 

A new study concludes that flowers get their shape by following a 'biological map' located in the flowerbud as it grows. 

The work was carried out in Norwich, as a joint project between the University of East Anglia and the John Innes Centre. They found that a "map" is stored in every flower bud, which can be thought of as a series of arrows, which point the flower in the right direcvtions when it comes to growing its petals. Without this valuable guide, flowers would not be able to make petals into the most efficient shape for catching sunlight and attracting bees.

It also helps to explain why one flower's petals may be different to those of another flower of the same species. 

"The discovery of these hidden polarity maps was a real surprise and provides a simple explanation for how different shapes can be generated," Enrico Coen, a plant biologist at the John Innes Center, said in a statement.

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