Navigation Links
Do plants perform best with family or strangers? Researchers consider social interactions
Date:11/9/2011

In the fight for survival, plants are capable of complex social behaviours and may exhibit altruism towards family members, but aggressively compete with strangers.

A growing body of work suggests plants recognize and respond to the presence and identity of their neighbours. But can plants cooperate with their relatives? While some studies have shown that siblings perform best -- suggesting altruism towards relatives -- other studies have shown that when less related plants grow together the group can actually outperform siblings. This implies the group benefits from its diversity by dividing precious resources effectively and competing less.

A team from McMaster University suggests plants can benefit from both altruism and biodiversity but when these processes occur at the same time, it is difficult to predict the outcome.

"The greatest challenge for understanding plant social interactions is we can't interpret plant behaviours as easily as we do those of animals," explains Susan Dudley, an associate professor in the Department of Biology at McMaster. "Though we have shown plants change traits in the presence of relatives, we need to determine if this is cooperation. Linking the plant behaviours with their benefits is challenging when multiple processes co-occur."

Dudley and a team of researchers disentangle the sometimes contradictory research in the latest edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, describing how the identity and presence of neighbours affect many processes acting on plant populations.

The problem, she says, is that plant social interactions are treated as a black box, with researchers only looking at the output, or the fitness of the plant, in sibling competition. But they need to investigate the mechanisms inside the box -- by describing how traits of individuals affect fitness -- to understand how the output is reached and which mechanisms are occurring to get there.

"Simply put, social environment matters to plants. If we first acknowledge that kin cooperation and resource partitioning are co-occurring, we can begin to address some very important questions," says Amanda File, a graduate student in the Department of Biology at McMaster.

"Among these questions is whether there is a link between kin recognition and plant performance, whether plant kin recognition can improve crop yield and how kin recognition shapes communities and ecosystems" says Guillermo Murphy, a graduate student in the Department of Biology at McMaster.


'/>"/>
Contact: Susan Dudley
sdudley@mcmaster.ca
McMaster University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Commercial aquatic plants offer cost-effective method for treating wastewater
2. UC Riverside biochemists devise method for bypassing aluminum toxicity effects in plants
3. Reproducing early and often is the key to rapid evolution in plants
4. MSU scientists find new gene that helps plants beat the heat
5. Researchers design artificial cells that could power medical implants
6. When under attack, plants can signal microbial friends for help
7. Current mass extinction spurs major study of which plants to save
8. Scientists unveil mechanism for up and down in plants
9. New hybrid plants could prompt more prodigious pepper production in Southwest
10. Extreme weather postpones the flowering time of plants
11. Even plants benefit from outsourcing
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys ... founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned ... of the original technical leadership team, including Chief Technology ... of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of ... to the company. Dr. Bready served as ...
(Date:3/23/2016)... 2016 Einzigartige ... und Stimmerkennung mit Passwörtern     ... MESG ), ein führender Anbieter digitaler Kommunikationsdienste, ... SpeechPro zusammenarbeitet, um erstmals dessen Biometrietechnologie einzusetzen. ... Möglichkeit angeboten, im Rahmen mobiler Apps neben ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... , PROVO and ... Newborn Screening Ontario (NSO), which operates the highest sample ... molecular testing, and Tute Genomics and UNIConnect, leaders in ... respectively, today announced the launch of a project to ... (NGS) testing panel. NSO has been ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/28/2016)... ... April 28, 2016 , ... Morris Midwest ( http://www.morrismidwest.com ), ... manufacturers at its Maple Grove, Minnesota technical center, May 11-12. The event ... Almost 20 leading suppliers of tooling, accessories, software and other related technology ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... The Pittcon Organizing Committee ... Chuck has been a volunteer member of Committee since 1987. Since then, he ... of directors and treasurer and was chairman for both the program and exposition committees. ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... and RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. , ... UTHR ) announced today that Martine Rothblatt ... Therapeutics will provide an overview and update on the ... Annual Health Care Conference. The presentation will ... a.m. Eastern Time, and can be accessed via a ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... PathSensors, Inc., a leading environmental ... Lamka will assist PathSensors in expanding the use of the company’s CANARY® technology ... test platform for the detection of harmful pathogens, including a number of bacteria, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: