The gravitational action of the sun and moon influences the behavior of animals and plants, study finds


The research was motivated by observations of fluctuations in autoluminescence caused by seed germination in cycles regulated by gravitational tides. Credit: Cristiano de Mello Gallep / UNICAMP

The activity rhythms of all biological organisms, plants and animals, are closely linked to the gravitational tides created by the orbital mechanics of the Sun-Earth-Moon system. This truth has been somewhat overlooked by scientific research, but is highlighted in a study by Cristiano de Mello Gallep at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, and by Daniel Robert in the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. An article on the study is published in the Journal of Experimental Botany.

“All matter on Earth, living and inert, undergoes the effects of the gravitational forces of the sun and the moon expressed in the form of tides. The periodic oscillations have two daily cycles and are modulated monthly and annually by the movements of these two celestial bodies. All the organisms on the planet have evolved in this context. What we sought to show in the article is that gravitational tides are a perceptible and powerful force that has always shaped the rhythmic activities of these organisms, ”said Gallep.

The study is both an in-depth review of the literature and a meta-analysis of data from three previously published cases in which gravitational causation has not been fully explored: Swimming activity of isopods, small shellless crustaceans which appeared on Earth at least 300 million years ago; reproductive effort in coral; and modulation of the growth of sunflower seedlings inferred from autoluminescence. In the latter case, the researchers analyzed the results of their own surveys as well as data from the literature.

“The data show that in the absence of other rhythmic influences such as lighting or temperature, local gravitational tides are sufficient to organize the cyclical behavior of these organisms. This evidence calls into question the validity of so-called free-run experiments, in which several environmental factors are controlled but gravitational oscillations are not taken into account. These oscillations continue to exist and can modulate the behavior of living organisms, ”said Gallep.

Many rhythmic patterns displayed by organisms are well known and have been widely studied. They include circadian rhythms, which are related to the day-night or light-dark cycle. However, certain rhythmic cycles are maintained even when the light factor is isolated under laboratory conditions, and the contributions of other environmental factors have been studied and demonstrated, although their effects are relatively small in many cases. The study in question examined, among other things, the persistence of tidal cycles in the behavior patterns of coastal organisms such as crustaceans, when removed from their natural habitats.

“These animals modulate their behavior according to the ebb and flow of the tides, in an approximately 12.4 hour cycle that arises from lunisolar dynamics, even when transferred to a laboratory with stable aquatic conditions and controlled, ”said Gallep. “The pattern persists for several days, corresponding to the synchronization of the lunisolar tides at the site where the organisms were collected in the wild.”

Although the combined gravitational effect of the sun and moon is only one millionth of Earth’s gravity, not only is it enough to cause large-scale tidal fluctuations in oceans, rivers and lakes, but also to displace tectonic plates. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), with a circumference of 27 kilometers, is displaced vertically by 1 millimeter by this gravitational fluctuation, and its scientists must adjust their experimental calculations Consequently.

Gallep first noted these periodicities in experiments involving autoluminescence associated with seed germination, carried out in Limeira (State of São Paulo). “I observed that changes in the collected signal appeared every 12 or 24 hours, but differed in each germination test. When I searched the literature for support, I found studies indicating a possible correlation with gravitational tides. We explored this phenomenon in subsequent tests on various types of seeds, and also added laboratory results obtained by collaborators in Prague, Czech Republic, Leiden, the Netherlands, and Hamamatsu, Japan ”, did he declare.

Gravitational cycles do not only affect the simplest organisms. Scientific studies have shown that humans kept in the dark tend to establish a cyclical fluctuation lasting 24.4 to 24.8 hours, in harmony with the lunar cycle. This tendency has also been noted in people who spend long periods in caves. It conditions the alternation of sleep and wakefulness, meal times and other metabolic functions.


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More information:

Cristiano de Mello Gallep et al, Are the cyclic behaviors of plants and animals driven by gravimetric mechanical forces ?, Journal of Experimental Botany (2021). DOI: 10.1093 / jxb / erab462

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