Daily cycles help vegetables fight off hungry caterpillars
Cabbages with jet lag are less nutritious and more vulnerable to insect pests.
Fruits and vegetables have an internal clock that can be reset by a daily cycle of light and dark, but storing produce in darkened refrigerators could disrupt this natural rhythm, researchers report June 20 in Current Biology.
Plants, even after being cropped from the stalk, are much more responsive to their external environment than we give them credit for, says Janet Braam, a plant biologist at Rice University. “When we harvest them they’re still metabolizing,” she says. “They’re still alive.”