Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Plants prefer their kin, but crowd out competition when sharing a pot with strangers

18.11.2009
Plants don't mind sharing space with their kin but when they're potted with strangers of the same species they start invigorating their leaves, a study by McMaster University reveals.

The research, which appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Botany, suggests non-kin plants will not only compete underground for soil nutrients, but will attempt to muscle out the competition above ground in the ongoing struggle for light.

It follows previous research from McMaster University which found that plants can recognize their kin through root systems and will compete more strongly for soil nutrients and water with non-sibling plants.

"This is the first study that shows plants are responding to kin at the above ground level," explains Guillermo Murphy, lead author of the study and a graduate student in the Department of Biology at McMaster University. "When they recognize their kin, they grow differently in shape, taller, with more branches and fewer resources into leaves, therefore allowing their siblings to access precious sunlight."

When researchers planted seedlings of a North American species of shade-loving Impatiens in the same pot, they reacted mildly with other offspring from the same mother plant. But when planted among non-kin of the same species, the plants shift extra resources into growing leaves.

"This supports previous research that plants are capable of complex social behaviour and will exhibit altruistic behaviour, giving their siblings a competitive edge in the wild," says Murphy.

In a previous study, led by Susan Dudley, associate professor of biology at McMaster, the Great Lakes sea rocket or Cakile edentula, which flourishes on beaches, showed altruistic behavior among its kin at the root level. When nearby strangers were detected, the sea rocket shifted resources to roots, fighting for precious water and soil nutrients.

This all makes sense on an ecological level, says Murphy. Sea rockets would have easy access to sunlight in its natural beach habitat and therefore, would struggle for nutrients underground. Conversely, Impatiens thrive in the shady woodlands, where moisture is plentiful, but sunlight is scarce.

The roots seem to tell siblings from strangers, he says, whether the change in behaviour is above or below ground. But simply placing them beside one another, in separate pots, did not produce the same results.

In the lab, researchers germinated the seeds from Impatiens collected in the field, to ensure they were properly grouped by sibling and non-siblings.

McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery. It has a student population of 23,000, and more than 140,000 alumni in 128 countries.

For more information contact:

Guillermo Murphy
Graduate Student, Department of Biology
McMaster University
905-741-0772 (cell)
905-528-3103 (home)
murphygp@mcmaster.ca
Michelle Donovan
Public Relations Manager: Broadcast Media
McMaster University
905-525-9140 ext. 22869
donovam@mcmaster.ca
Jane Christmas
Manager, Public & Media Relations
McMaster University
905-525-9140 ext. 27988
chrisja@mcmaster.ca

Michelle Donovan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mcmaster.ca

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling
07.12.2016 | National Centre for Biological Sciences

nachricht Transforming plant cells from generalists to specialists
07.12.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>