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Structural requirements for the perception of ambient temperature signals in homeothermic heat production of skunk cabbage (Symlocarpus foetidus)

Ito, K., Onda, Y., Sato, T., Abe, Y., Uemura, M.
Plant, cell and environment 2003 v.26 no.6 pp. 783-788
Araceae, inflorescences, heat production, xylem, plant exudates, carbohydrate composition, sucrose, glucose, fructose, air temperature, ambient temperature, defoliation, leaves, stems
The spadix of skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, is capable of maintaining an internal temperature of around 20 °C even when the ambient temperature drops to around 0 °C. To determine the crucial structure that is required for detection of ambient temperature signals, detailed measurements of the temperatures of the spadix were made under field conditions. The spadix temperature was well regulated even when the spathe or the leaf of the plant was removed. Furthermore, maintenance of the temperature of the central stalk at either 10 or 20 °C had no effect on the thermoregulation when the ambient temperature increased from 10 to 25 °C or decreased from 20 to 8 °C. Therefore, it seemed that the heat production in the spadix required neither the spathe, the leaf, nor the central stalk for perception of the external temperature signals. Finally, analysis of sugar composition in xylem exudates showed that the concentrations of sucrose, glucose, and fructose, all of which are potential energy sources of thermogenesis, did not change significantly at different ambient temperatures. It is concluded that the spadix is a unique organ in which the perception of ambient temperature signals and heat production occurs in S. foetidus.