US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Wheat leaves, like many other plants, are super-hydrophobic, which reduces the accumulation of dirt and allows water to quickly slide down. Small droplets on such a surface easily merge, and the excess energy of their surface tension turns into kinetic energy, throwing individual droplets away.
This mechanism of “sneezing,” or “catapult surface tension,” was described by American scientists in an article published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
Laboratory experiments have shown that the “catapult” is able to throw drops to a height of up to five millimeters. This is enough to catch the wind. Moreover, scientists have found that such drops can accumulate spores of Puccinia recondita.
These parasitic fungi infect cereals all over the world and are especially dangerous for wheat, as they cause it a disease – brown rust . According to scientists, the “sneezing” of a sick plant takes about 10 fungal spores per hour per square centimeter from the surface of the leaves.
Scientists are convinced that the mechanism they have demonstrated is an important channel for transmitting infection between plants “airborne droplets.” It is possible that in the future, fields affected by brown rust can be treated with substances that reduce the hydrophobicity of wheat leaves in order to slow the spread of the disease.
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