Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study explores plant phenotypic plasticity belowground


When we think of organisms actively searching for resources (foraging) we generally think of things like wolves stalking elk or butterflies finding flowers. Why don’t we also think about plants growing roots through the soil? Although they cannot run or fly, plants forage too, for soil nutrients by growing more roots in response to locally high nutrient levels.

One of the most widely accepted explanations of why plants differ in their ability to place roots selectively in patches is known as the "scale-precision tradeoff" theory. Underlying the theory is the idea that large, dominant plants forage over large distances ("foraging scale") but are unable to place their roots precisely ("foraging precision"), while small, subordinate plants are able to coexist with the dominants, in part, because they exhibit greater foraging precision.

In an article in the August 2005 issue of The American Naturalist, Steven Kembel and James Cahill test the validity of this foraging trade-off theory using a data set of more than 100 species, compiled from previously published studies. Consistent with other studies, they found that species vary greatly in the precision with which they forage, with grasses generally less precise foragers than broad-leafed plants. However, the ability to forage precisely in response to nutrient patches is completely unrelated to plant size. Surprisingly, most species grew bigger when soil resources were patchy instead of evenly distributed, regardless of whether they were precise foragers or not. This research opens up new avenues of inquiry about the ecological significance of plant foraging strategies.

Carrie Olivia Adams | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'
16.03.2018 | Emory Health Sciences

nachricht Scientists map the portal to the cell's nucleus
16.03.2018 | Rockefeller 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: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>