Comments Subscribe to Personal Liberty News Feed Subscribe to Personal Liberty

Study: Plants Do Long Division To Stretch Food Supply Overnight

NORWICH, England (UPI) — To avoid starvation at night, plants do arithmetic — division to be exact — so their starch reserves last until dawn, British researchers say.

During the day plants feed themselves by using energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide into sugars and starch, then through the night must depend on their store of starch to prevent starvation.

Plants make precise adjustments to their rate of starch consumption to ensure the starch store lasts until dawn even if the size of the starch store varies from night to night, the researchers found.

To adjust that consumption so precisely they must be performing a mathematical calculation — arithmetic division, the researchers said.

“This is the first concrete example in a fundamental biological process of such a sophisticated arithmetic calculation,” said mathematical modeler Martin Howard from the John Innes Center of the Norwich BioSciences Institutes said.

Information about time comes from a plant’s internal clock, similar to our own body clock, and the size of the starch store is divided by the length of time until dawn to set the correct rate of starch consumption, so that, by dawn, around 95 percent of starch is used up, the researchers said.

“The calculations are precise so that plants prevent starvation but also make the most efficient use of their food,” metabolic biologist Alison Smith said.

“If the starch store is used too fast, plants will starve and stop growing during the night. If the store is used too slowly, some of it will be wasted.”

“The capacity to perform arithmetic calculation is vital for plant growth and productivity,” she said.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

Facebook Conversations

Join the Discussion:
View Comments to “Study: Plants Do Long Division To Stretch Food Supply Overnight”

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.

Is there news related to personal liberty happening in your area? Contact us at


Sign Up For Personal Liberty Digest™!

PL Badge

Welcome to,
America's #1 Source for Libertarian News!

To join our group of freedom-loving individuals and to get alerts as well as late-breaking conservative news from Personal Liberty Digest™...

Privacy PolicyYou can opt out at any time. We protect your information like a mother hen. We will not sell or rent your email address to anyone for any reason.