Journal Article

Partial mechanical stimulation facilitates the growth of the rhizomatous plant <i>Leymus secalinus</i>: modulation by clonal integration

Yuan Sui, Weiming He, Xu Pan and Ming Dong

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 107, issue 4, pages 693-697
Published in print April 2011 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online February 2011 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcr012
Partial mechanical stimulation facilitates the growth of the rhizomatous plant Leymus secalinus: modulation by clonal integration

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

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Background and Aims

Mechanical stimulation (MS) often induces plants to undergo thigmomorphogenesis and to synthesize an array of signalling substances. In clonal plants, connected ramets often share resources and hormones. However, little is known about whether and how clonal integration influences the ability of clonal plants to withstand MS. We hypothesized that the effects of MS may be modulated by clonal integration.

Methods

We conducted an experiment in which ramet pairs of Leymus secalinus were subjected to three treatments: (1) connected ramet pairs under a homogeneous condition [i.e. the proximal (relatively old) and distal (relatively young) ramets were not mechanically stressed]; (2) connected ramet pairs under a heterogeneous condition (i.e. the proximal ramet was mechanically stressed but the distal ramet was not); and (3) disconnected ramet pairs under the same condition as in treatment 2. At the end of the experiment, we harvested all plants and determined their biomass and allocation.

Key Results

Clonal integration had no significant influence on measured traits of distal L. secalinus ramets without MS. However, under MS, plants with distal ramets that were connected to a mother ramet produced more total plant biomass, below-ground biomass, ramets and total rhizome length than those that were not connected. Partial MS exerted local effects on stimulated ramets and remote effects on connected unstimulated ramets. Partial MS increased total biomass, root/shoot ratio, number of ramets and total rhizome length of stimulated proximal ramets, and increased total biomass, root weight ratio, number of ramets and total rhizome length of connected unstimulated ramets due to clonal integration.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that thigmomorphogenesis may protect plants from the stresses caused by high winds or trampling and that thigmomorphogenesis can be strongly modulated by the degree of clonal integration.

Keywords: Clonal plants; heterogeneous habitats; resource translocation; thigmomorphogenesis

Journal Article.  3069 words.  Illustrated.

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

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