Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

In the war between the sexes, the one with the closest fungal relationship wins

12.11.2009
Female plants were more likely to be colonized by the mycorrhizal fungi than male plants

The war between the sexes has been fought on many fronts throughout time—from humans to birds to insects, the animal kingdom is replete with species involved in their own skirmishes.

A recent study by Dr. Sarah Eppley and colleagues at Portland State University published in the November issue of the American Journal of Botany (www.amjbot.org/cgi/content/full/96/11/1967) demonstrates that certain plants, with some help from fungal friends, may also be involved in this fray.

Most flowering plants form symbiotic relationships with mycorrhizal fungi. The plants produce food that the fungi need to survive, and the fungi provide several benefits to plants. They may assist the plants in nutrient uptake, provide protection against fungal pathogens that would harm the plants' roots, and improve the soil structure. With the many benefits these mycorrhizal fungi provide to plants, they have the potential to play a significant role in shaping plant populations.

Interactions between the plant and the mycorrhizal fungi may be influenced by the genetic composition of the plant. This raises the question: for species with separate male and female plants, do interactions with mycorrhizal fungi vary between the sexes and consequently play a role in the male/female structure of the population?

"We know that male and female plants often differ in physiology, but little is known about whether the sexes differ in their interactions with other organisms," Eppley noted. "If males and females differ in how they interact with organisms in their community, such as with mycorrhizal fungi, then we expect a cascade of effects within a community."

Eppley and colleagues analyzed mycorrhizal colonization of roots of male and female members of the marsh grass Distichlis spicata to determine whether the sex of the plant influences the interaction between the plant and mycorrhizal fungi.

In populations of D. spicata, males are found almost exclusively in habitats that have a low nutrient concentration and females are found almost exclusively in habitats with a higher nutrient concentration. The relationship between D. spicata and mycorrhizal fungi is known to have a significant effect on the health and reproduction of the grass. If D. spicata exhibits sex-specific interactions with the mycorrhizal fungi, this distribution may be due to those interactions.

Eppley and colleagues found differences in mycorrhizal colonization between males and females. Female plants were more likely to be colonized by the mycorrhizal fungi than male plants. Although some of the plants they studied had not yet reached reproductive maturity, these immature plants also showed the same pattern of sex-specific colonization.

Intersexual competition has been hypothesized to be a likely cause of the spatial segregation of the sexes in D. spicata populations. It may be that the female plants, with the assistance of mycorrhizal fungi, are able to out-compete the male plants for the coveted phosphorous-rich sites within the marsh.

"Although intersexual competition in plants has rarely been studied," said Eppley, "understanding the differences in how males and females compete is important because it is likely to play a role in the evolution of population sex ratios."

The full article in the link mentioned are available for no charge for 30 days following the date of this summary at www.amjbot.org/cgi/content/full/96/11/1967. After this date, reporters may contact Richard Hund at ajb@botany.org for a copy of the article.

The Botanical Society of America (www.botany.org) is a non-profit membership society with a mission to promote botany, the field of basic science dealing with the study and inquiry into the form, function, development, diversity, reproduction, evolution, and uses of plants and their interactions within the biosphere. It has published the American Journal of Botany (www.amjbot.org) for nearly 100 years. In 2009, the Special Libraries Association named the American Journal of Botany one of the Top 10 Most Influential Journals of the Century in the field of Biology and Medicine.

For further information, please contact the AJB staff at ajb@botany.org.

Richard Hund | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.botany.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers uncover protein-based “cancer signature”
05.12.2016 | Universität Basel

nachricht The Nagoya Protocol Creates Disadvantages for Many Countries when Applied to Microorganisms
05.12.2016 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

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,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

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

IHP presents the fastest silicon-based transistor in the world

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

InLight study: insights into chemical processes using light

05.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

High-precision magnetic field sensing

05.12.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>