Hercules famously battled the mythical hydra, which regrew two heads for every one cut off.
A new study recently found that certain plants do this as well and the scientists behind the study decided to call them “overcompensators.”
Biologists used to believe that plants did not have the energy to produce defensive chemicals and regrow itself, but this study proves that certain plants have the ability to do both. Not only did these plants regrow faster than before, but they also produced more defensive chemicals in the tissue.
Most plants simply reconstruct using a process called endoreduplication, which is basically just growing back, but with more cells. Each round of endoreduplication doubles a cell’s output. Having twice as many active genes means the cell can pump out more proteins needed to perform cellular tasks.
Overcompensation in plants was first discovered in 1987, but back then scientists were reluctant to believe it. It took more than a decade of study for this idea to take hold within the scientific community.
It also has practical implications going forward, as further study may lead to advances in agricultural yields and a reduction in pesticide use.