Journal Article

Mechanosensing of stem bending and its interspecific variability in five neotropical rainforest species

Catherine Coutand, Malia Chevolot, André Lacointe, Nick Rowe and Ivan Scotti

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 105, issue 2, pages 341-347
Published in print February 2010 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online December 2009 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcp286
Mechanosensing of stem bending and its interspecific variability in five neotropical rainforest species

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

In rain forests, sapling survival is highly dependent on the regulation of trunk slenderness (height/diameter ratio): shade-intolerant species have to grow in height as fast as possible to reach the canopy but also have to withstand mechanical loadings (wind and their own weight) to avoid buckling. Recent studies suggest that mechanosensing is essential to control tree dimensions and stability-related morphogenesis. Differences in species slenderness have been observed among rainforest trees; the present study thus investigates whether species with different slenderness and growth habits exhibit differences in mechanosensitivity.

Methods

Recent studies have led to a model of mechanosensing (sum-of-strains model) that predicts a quantitative relationship between the applied sum of longitudinal strains and the plant's responses in the case of a single bending. Saplings of five different neotropical species (Eperua falcata, E. grandiflora, Tachigali melinonii, Symphonia globulifera and Bauhinia guianensis) were subjected to a regimen of controlled mechanical loading phases (bending) alternating with still phases over a period of 2 months. Mechanical loading was controlled in terms of strains and the five species were subjected to the same range of sum of strains. The application of the sum-of-strain model led to a dose–response curve for each species. Dose–response curves were then compared between tested species.

Key Results

The model of mechanosensing (sum-of-strain model) applied in the case of multiple bending as long as the bending frequency was low. A comparison of dose–response curves for each species demonstrated differences in the stimulus threshold, suggesting two groups of responses among the species. Interestingly, the liana species B. guianensis exhibited a higher threshold than other Leguminosae species tested.

Conclusions

This study provides a conceptual framework to study variability in plant mechanosensing and demonstrated interspecific variability in mechanosensing.

Keywords: Mechanosensing; interspecific variability; trees; lianas; rain forest; neotropical species; bending; biomechanics; Bauhinia; Eperua; Symphonia; Tachigali

Journal Article.  5037 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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