Root Foraging Increases Performance of the Clonal Plant Potentilla reptans in Heterogeneous Nutrient Environments

Wang, Zhengwen; van Kleunen, Mark; During, Heinjo J.; Werger, Marinus J. A. (2013). Root Foraging Increases Performance of the Clonal Plant Potentilla reptans in Heterogeneous Nutrient Environments. PLoS ONE, 8(3), e58602. Lawrence, Kans.: Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0058602

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Background Plastic root-foraging responses have been widely recognized as an important strategy for plants to explore heterogeneously distributed resources. However, the benefits and costs of root foraging have received little attention. Methodology/Principal Findings In a greenhouse experiment, we grew pairs of connected ramets of 22 genotypes of the stoloniferous plant Potentilla reptans in paired pots, between which the contrast in nutrient availability was set as null, medium and high, but with the total nutrient amount kept the same. We calculated root-foraging intensity of each individual ramet pair as the difference in root mass between paired ramets divided by the total root mass. For each genotype, we then calculated root-foraging ability as the slope of the regression of root-foraging intensity against patch contrast. For all genotypes, root-foraging intensity increased with patch contrast and the total biomass and number of offspring ramets were lowest at high patch contrast. Among genotypes, root-foraging intensity was positively related to production of offspring ramets and biomass in the high patch-contrast treatment, which indicates an evolutionary benefit of root foraging in heterogeneous environments. However, we found no significant evidence that the ability of plastic foraging imposes costs under homogeneous conditions (i.e. when foraging is not needed). Conclusions/Significance Our results show that plants of P. reptans adjust their root-foraging intensity according to patch contrast. Moreover, the results show that the root foraging has an evolutionary advantage in heterogeneous environments, while costs of having the ability of plastic root foraging were absent or very small.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

van Kleunen, Mark

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

1932-6203

Publisher:

Public Library of Science

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

23 Oct 2013 16:19

Last Modified:

09 Dec 2014 22:05

Publisher DOI:

10.1371/journal.pone.0058602

PubMed ID:

23472211

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.38698

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/38698

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