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Thread: Study: flora can recognize its family

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    Whats it to ya? Finch's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Study: flora can recognize its family

    Its a rather interesting study provides the first evidence that flora can recognize its family and that plants treat kin better than outsiders. You'll like it if your into that sorta thing.

    http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi...ull/2007/613/3

    Humans tend to treat relatives better than strangers--"blood is thicker than water," as the axiom goes--and now it appears that plants play by the same rules. A new study provides the first evidence that flora can recognize its family and that plants treat kin better than outsiders.
    Plants sense their neighbors and respond competitively: Some grow more leaves, some grow additional flowers, and some bloom earlier--all in a jostle to create more offspring. Still, undergraduate student Amanda Pile at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, wondered whether plants might be more easygoing if the plant next door is related.

    She and McMaster plant evolutionary ecologist Susan Dudley looked at Great Lakes sea rocket (Cakile edentula var. lacustris), an annual plant that self-fertilizes to produce a batch of nearly identical siblings. They stuffed pots with four plants each--all either related or unrelated--so that their roots touched. They then grew the plants for 8 weeks, until the sea rocket started to flower, and then uprooted them to see how fully the roots, stems, leaves, and buds had developed. Plants potted next to their own ilk allocated less of their mass to root development than did those dwelling among strangers, the researchers report online this week in Biology Letters.

    This study is the first to show that plants distinguish between relatives and strangers, Dudley says, and that plants can respond altruistically by growing a smaller root system when they sense family nearby. In a community where siblings share so many genes, "their success is your success," Dudley explains. "If they can agree to be nice to each other, then everybody does better."

    The mechanism the sea rocket uses to discriminate remains unknown. And the behavior is "not altruism so much as reduced antagonism," says evolutionary geneticist John Kelly of the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Ray Callaway, a plant community ecologist at the University of Montana in Missoula, adds that the polite familial relations may sour if the soil conditions worsen and it's every plant for itself. Furthermore, says Hans de Kroon, a plant ecologist at the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, the study is long-term enough to tell whether there's a net benefit to cooperation.

    Dudley agrees and is looking into field studies to see whether cooperation boosts overall fitness. But everyone seems to concur that such kin recognition and generous response to family members wrecks the assumption that individual plants always exploit their resources to the fullest possible extent.

    The study itself is published here: http://www.pubs.royalsoc.ac.uk/media...BL20070232.pdf
    that makes no logic

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    Very interesting. Makes you think about making community pots and bogs. Thanks for posting.

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    nepenthes_ak's Avatar
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    woah, wonder if this applies for Sarrs?

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    Stop having a boring tuna, stop having a boring life! neon-eon's Avatar
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    Wow, neat! I wonder what the purpose is though?
    -No matter what you do with your life, I still care about you. -Mr P.

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    wicked good plants! Presto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neon-eon View Post
    I wonder what the purpose is though?
    When two plants are growing close together, they're competing with one another - for light, water, nutrients in the soil, pollinators, etc. Ordinarily, it would be in a plant's best interest to grow as large as it can, as fast as it can, in order to out-compete the other plants. So they would try to grow lots of roots, taking in as much water and nutrients as they can, before the other plants do.

    These plants, however, allegedly recognize other plants that have similar genes, and hold back on root development if siblings are close by. So they aren't putting as much effort into stealing the other's water. make sense?
    -Emily

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