Surface-tension phenomena in organismal biology: plants

Flows driven by surface tension are both ubiquitous and diverse, involving the drinking of birds and bees, the flow of xylem in plants, the impact of raindrops on animals, respiration in humans, and the transmission of diseases in plants and animals, including humans. The  fundamental physical principles underlying such flows provide a unifying framework to interpret the adaptations of the microorganisms, animals, and plants that rely upon them. The symposium on ‘‘Surface-Tension Phenomena in Organismal Biology’’ assembled an interdisciplinary group of researchers to address a large spectrum of topics, all articulated around the role of surface tension in shaping biology, health, and ecology. The contributions to the symposium and the papers in this issue are meant to be a starting point for novices to familiarize themselves with the fundamentals of flows driven by surface tension; to understand how they can play a governing role in many settings in organismal biology; and how such understanding of nature’s use of surface tension can, in turn, inspire humans to innovate.

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