Phototropism and Direction

Phototropism is [a] phenomena . . . in which the direction of growth is determined by the direction of the light source . . . Phototropism reflects a remarkable harmony between plants (or fungi) and their environment. As sessile organisms, plants cannot walk toward or away from various environmental stimuli. However, phototropism allows the plants to “move” harmoniously in response to the direction of sunlight . . .

Plants that depend on light for growth interact with their environment by growing towards a light source. They use a hormone called auxin that helps elongate cells that are farthest away from the light, gradually turning the plant.

In an article from The Plant Cell, called, “Bending Towards Enlightenment,” that gives a summary of the history of phototropism research, the author concludes,

We can no longer view the response as a simple or linear physiological response. Instead, phototropism must be viewed as a complex biological response involving interactions of multiple photoreceptors, multiple hormones, and multiple signaling pathways that together orchestrate the establishment of coordinated differential growth gradients.

Perhaps we also, as humans, face a complex process in straining towards the light—that which allows us to grow. The Bible includes many scriptures comparing God to light, such as Psalm 4:6: “Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!” And the process of conversion is often described as a turning from the old way to a new and bright righteousness. Isaiah 45:22 says, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” Through this turning, stretching toward God, we are able both to grow and be transformed, just as plants grow and develop into something looking quite different from its beginning. Isaiah 61:11 says,

For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.


One thought on “Phototropism and Direction

  1. Good to think about! I am intrigued by the notion that phototropism involves an interaction of multiple pathways. Many would identify a change in attitude being involved in bending toward the Light, but now I need to consider how and if there is more of an amalgam of attitudes, skills, perspectives, emotions in this slow, but steady, process. Interestingly, we can hinder the process by messing with the environment.

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