research highlights LIGHT AVAILABILITY Nat. Commun. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467- 017-02147-2 (2017) Credit: Martin Fowler/Alamy Stock Photos Competition drives natural selection in all short–dense, tall–sparse and tall–dense. living things according to Darwin’s theory By measuring plant growth parameters such of evolution. Plants compete for resources as the number of newly produced leaves, such as water, nutrients and light to sustain petiole length, height per diameter, specific their growth and reproduction. Meanwhile, leaf area, stolon length and internode length, resource availability at different spatial the researchers identified distinct patterns of and temporal scales also influences the plant responses to different light conditions. growth of plants and the structure of plant Specifically, the short–dense treatment led communities. In terms of light competition, to the highest height-per-diameter ratio, multiple mechanisms (including vertical suggesting a preference of vertical growth, growth, lateral growth and shade tolerance) whereas the tall–dense treatment is more have been proposed to be key strategies closely associated with increased leaf areas, that plants evolve. However, whether plants indicating shade tolerance. Plants with dense are able to shift between these strategies neighbours also exhibited more lateral growth according to their environmental conditions compared with those with sparse ones. has become a pressing question in efforts to This study presents a smart experimental understand more about light competition. strategy to simplify the real situations To resolve this, Michal Gruntman and his that plants face in natural communities colleagues from University of Tübingen, and, importantly, demonstrates the ability Germany, tested the responses of a clonal of plants to employ flexible competitive plant Potentilla reptans when facing different strategies even when they have the same levels of light competition. genetic backgrounds. Vertical filters of transparent green Lei Lei plastic with different heights and densities were used to mimic the light conditions generated by four different scenarios of Published online: 4 January 2018 neighbouring vegetation: short–sparse, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-017-0094-5 NATure PLANT s | VOL 4 | JANUARY 2018 | 9 | www.nature.com/natureplants © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved.
Nature Plants – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 4, 2018
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