After some internet research, I think perhaps the following topic is often used as a project in middle school science and nature classes; but I never had it.
I'm growing some pole beans this summer. Kentucky Blue.Â In fact they make a great trellis climbing plant to shade the summer sun off my back porch.Â I had never thought about it, but when I examined the health of the plants this morning, I noticed that as the vines climb up the supports I've provided for them, every single one of them forms a right-handed helix. That is, if you point the thumb of your right hand up the pole in the direction of growth, then the vine curls around the pole in the same direction the fingers of your right hand would curl (counter clockwise).Â So this got me to thinking.
Can I force the vines to curl in the opposite direction? Is the orientation of the helix determined genetically? Is it determined by environmental factors? I have no idea at this point, so I did a little internet research.Â What I found is that this simple issue is still, apparently, a (somewhat) open question. Apparently 90% of twining vines form right-handed helices. Perhaps, this preference is related to the Â intrinsic chirality of the fundamental molecular biology and building blocks of the plant.Â Or perhaps related to environmental Â directions of sunlight, gravity, and magnetic field.Â Are there other environmental factors that could impart direction?
There's usually something interesting to see in your surroundings if you pay attention.Here's an article from the Post on climbing vines in general.