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Leaf veins loopy for a reason

Circular networks are best for getting around a bad spot, varying load

6:39pm, February 2, 2010

Tree branches have inspired efficient transit networks, but a new study finds inspiration in leaves. The curvy, connected leaf veins found in some plants are an efficient way to circumvent damaged areas and channel nutrients, report researchers led by Eleni Katifori of the Rockefeller University in New York City.

“It’s obvious that if you look at leaves, they have a lot of loops,” Katifori says. To find out how the looped networks may be beneficial for the plants, the researchers created a computer model to compare how efficiently different branching patterns could do the job of leaf veins, which move water and nutrients around. “The question we’re asking is, what

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