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Effect of light and shade on stinging nettle growth rates

Asked by JM | Nov 8, 2003 | A Level > Biology > Coursework
JM
JM asks:

Hello, I have just returned from a biology field trip where I studied stinging nettles (u.d). I compared nettles in partial shade to those in an unshaded region. Nettles were much taller in the shade, to those not in the shade, and comparisons of internode lengths (from top leaf to second leaf down), between the shaded and unshaded nettles showed shaded nettles to have longer internodes. Does this indicate that nettles have faster growth rates in the shade? And if so, then WHY exactly do they grow quicker in the shade?
Any reply would be very, very helpful, and any possible info. on books I could buy on this topic would also be great.
Thankyou XXX

etutor answers:
Plants do tend to grow fasetr in the shade. This is because the plant growth hormones (auxins) are inactivated by sunlight. This is advantageous to the plant, because it means it will grow upwards if it needs light, and stop growing (or at least slow down) when it reaches the light. I can't recommend any specific books, but auxins, plant hormones and phototropism ought to be covered in any A level text.

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Joss
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