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Leaves' loopy networks.

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Tree branches have inspired efficient transit networks, but a new study looks at the connected loops of leaf veins. In some plants the loops help circumvent damaged areas and channel nutrients efficiently, report researchers led by Eleni Katifori of Rockefeller University in New York City. The team programmed a computer to simulate how efficiently different network patterns could do the job of leaf veins, which move water and nutrients around. In the simulations, the looped network performed better than nonlooped ones in several important ways, the team reported January 29 in Physical Review Letters. Damage from insects, weather or parasites can interrupt leaves' normal venation patterns. Connected circular veins allowed the flow of water and minerals to circumvent injured areas (dark green dot, shown on lemon leaf). The looped network also allowed easy adjustment of the flow rate of water through veins, which can help conserve moisture on a hot day, Katifori says.

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Title Annotation:Matter & Energy; study of looped transit networks based on leaf veins
Author:Sanders, Laura
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 27, 2010
Words:155
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