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Forest lace

Arildo Dias obtained this image by cutting and dyeing the stem of a liana (climbing vine) as part of his doctoral studies on plant biology at the University of Campinas (Unicamp). The areas in red are fibers (used for structural support) as well as vessel elements of xylem, the water-transporting tissue of plants. The blue areas consist mostly of sugar-transporting phloem as well as the storage tissue called parenchyma. This distribution of colors enabled Dias to compare lianas and forest trees in the cities of Campinas and Ubatuba, located, respectively, in an inland area on the coast of São Paulo State. Partly because they use trees for support, lianas can expend more energy on developing transport tissue and less on structural support. This makes them more efficient in less rainy areas.

Photo submitted by biologist Arildo Dias