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 A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>