Wednesday, December 2, 2009
LXVIII: Dr. Bill Remphrey
I'm reeling. I emailed Dr. Bill Remphrey. Here's an excerpt:
Me: I've been interested in the Trees for a while, and I don't know that my own fascination would be so strong if I understood fully why the Trees are crooked. Do you think anything would be lost (or gained) if a clearer explanation emerged for the Trees' crooked architecture?
Dr. Remphrey: I am not sure exactly what you don't understand. We know the trait is heritable and is most likely a single gene mutation. We don't know exactly what is happening at the gene expression level, but the gene is either causing the shoots to have reduced strength or differential growth that causes them to bend over. Ultimately I suspect plant hormones are involved. In any event, once this happens there is a cascade of developmental events that lead to the crooked form.
I now fear that, rather than searching for an explanation, the hours I devoted to poring over those essays were actually an attempt to sustain my belief that there was no explanation for the Trees.
"I am not sure exactly what you don't understand."
Please, if you haven't already, check out Dr. Remphrey's website.