Perception of Neighboring Plants by Rhizomes and Roots: Morphological Manifestations of a Clonal Plant

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Canadian Journal of Botany

Publication Date







A previous study showed that clonal morphology of the rhizonlatous grass Elyttr~rs 1rtrceolntrr.s ssp. Inrrceolctrrs (Scibncr & J.G. Smith Gould) was influenced more by ncighbouring root systcms than by the local distribution of nutrients. In this study we determine whether individual rhizomcs or roots of E. lntrcrolnt~rs perccivc ncighbouring root systems and how this is manifested in morphological responses of E. Inr~ceolnt~rs cloncs. El~~trr~a lat~ccolat~rs was grown in the same bin with Psc.lrdoroe~trerin spicnta (Pursh) A. Love or Agropyrotr rlesertor~rrt~ (Fisch. ex Link) Schult. plants. E1~~tr11r.s I~~~~ceolat~rs was separated from its neighbours by different barriers. The b:~rricrs allowed either only E. latzceolnt~rs roots; only a single E. Intrceolntus primary rhizome: or both roots and rhizomes to contact the neighbour root system. When only a single E. Irrticeolrrt~rs primary rhizome with potentially developing branching rhizomes made contact with the ncighbour, the clonal structure of E. Irrticeolntu.~ was modificd more with P. spicatn as the neighbour than with A. desertor.rrttl. With root contact of E. Irrt~ceolrrt~r.s alone there was a similar effect with the neighbouring plants, but there was a Inore marked inhibitory effect on E. Irrt~c~eolrrt~r.s clonal growth with P. s/~iccrtn than with A. desertor~rtrr, compared with the treatment with only a single rhizome in contact with the neighbour. Root resource compctition in the unconstrained treatment (roots and rhizomes) between neighbouring plant and E. Irrtzceolatrrs was more apparent with A. rlesertor~rn~ than with P. sl~iccrtcr. This study is one of the first to documcnt that rhizome and root contact of a clonal plant with its neighbours may induce different clonal responses depending on the species of neighbour.

First Page


Last Page