Designed to Eat Plants; Then Cursed to be Unable

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How Did Plants Survive the Flood?  

It is thought by some that plants would have been unable to survive the Biblical flood. However, plants have adaptive abilities that surpass all other multicellular organisms, and are therefore perhaps the most difficult to completely exterminate of any organism on earth. This is due to an extraordinary ability to reproduce during times of stress, and also because unlike other sexually reproducing organisms, most plants can self fertilize and therefore are able to alter their genome more dramatically without the worry of being able to find a sexually compatible mate.

All plants respond to stress by reproducing through either sexual or vegetative reproduction. Plants will sacrifice all metabolic reserves to rapidly set seed when the conditions indicate winter or draught is coming. Seeds that were set before the flood could easily have survived the event because they are designed to weather a period of hardship and not germinate immediately after maturation. Seeds enter a state of dormancy and are equipped with a seed coat possessing sufficient density to prevent precocious germination during the winter or dry season. The seed coat must decompose or be breeched so water can penetrate and break dormancy before the seed will germinate. Such decomposition is typically accomplished by bacteria and fungi, which like plant embryos are not metabolically active at temperatures expected during the flood. In addition, some seeds (such as cherry) will not germinate for years unless they pass through the digestive tract of an animal first.

Although seeds could survive the flood, no plant needs to generate seed to reproduced. Most plants readily undergo vegetative propagation. It is well known that plants send out runners and reproduce through vegetative nodes, but a more remarkable ability exists. Plants can spawn a clone of itself from any cell. Through the process known as organogenesis or somatic embryogenesis, a plant will emerge from a mass of wound tissue. Regeneration through this mechanism demonstrates a level of survivability not possessed by any other group of organisms.

Regenerated CornPlant genetic transformations are now being performed with regularity. The success of these techniques is in part due to the development of strategies to regenerate an entire plant from a single cell. This is required to obtain a transformant that is not a genetic chimeric, and ensure the inheritance of the transgene. Regeneration strategies have now been worked-out for most plants, and it is relatively certain that all plants can reproduce without seed or reproductive organs.

Organogenesis can occur when a cell mass called callus forms crude plant organs and shoot apical meristem can emerge. However, the development of a functionally mature plant from these regenerants is frequently morphologically challenged. To obtain a normal reproducible plant the researcher should isolate a proper embryo. Out of a colony of plant tissue, a perfect embryo can be isolated which resulted from the metamorphosis of a single cell through somatic embryogenesis. Although hormonal induction of embryogenesis is most common, other strategies simply stress the plant cell lines to trigger the reproductive response. Frustrating cells lines from tissue formation or growing cultures in the dark or along-side necrotic or dying material will also frequently induce somatic embryogenesis.

It is likely that the post-flood world was recolonized both from seeds which remained dormant during the flood, and from vegetative propagation of one form or another. Plants as individuals can become extremely well adapted to specific conditions making them sensitive to rapid changes in conditions. Perhaps it is for this reason that they were equipped with reproductive mechanisms not found in any other multicellular organism. If there had been a need to store seeds along with the animals on the ark, this directive would have also been given to Noah. However, as we have seen following many such catastrophes, God's creation possesses an amazing ability to reestablish itself, and such biological recovery always begins with the appearance of plants.

by Chris W. Ashcraft

Creationary Plant Biology