Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Seedlings thrive with distant relatives, seeds with close family

Date:
March 15, 2011
Source:
Case Western Reserve University
Summary:
A variety of angiosperm seedlings suffered from competition when planted with near relatives in home soils and fared best with distant relatives. But, seeds did just the opposite in a new study. And seedlings in potting soil also grew best with near relatives, raising the question of why soils affect competition outcomes.

A variety of plant seedlings suffer most from competition when planted with close relatives, and grow best when planted alongside distant relatives in field soils, researchers from Case Western Reserve University and the University of California, Davis, have found.

And, when seeds of the same species are buried among relatives in the field, the seeds germinate at a higher rate and grow better early in life in close relatives' habitats than distant relatives' habitats.

The work will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences March 14.

The findings, which have implications for Darwin's naturalization hypothesis, invasive species and responses to climate change, come from one of the basic quests in ecology, said Jean H. Burns, a professor of biology at Case Western Reserve.

"One of our goals is to understand what mechanisms drive community assembly, why some species co-exist and why others can't," she said.

Darwin predicted that newcomers that are most distantly related to established species in an ecological community would be the most successful colonizers. Close relatives might compete for the same resources, if they have the same or similar strategies.

This idea has been called Darwin's naturalization hypothesis, and is predicated on the idea that close relatives, being more similar, will compete more strongly with one another than distant relatives.

Burns and Sharon Y. Strauss, a biology professor at the U.C. Davis Center for Population Biology, set up a series of experiments to test whether more closely-related species are more ecologically similar than distantly-related species, and can relatedness thus be used to make predictions about species coexistence?

In a lath house, they planted seedlings of 12 focal species of angiosperms, a diverse group of seed plants, in four groupings: alone in pots and with plants of the same species, the same genus, and the same family.

The researchers used DNA sequences, which reveal evolutionary relationships, to gauge how closely related species were.

When planted in the focal species' home soils, the closer the relationship between plants, the worse the focal species fared. The focal species fared best when grown with the most-distant relatives, consistent with Darwin's idea that competition will be strongest between close relatives.

But, when planted in potting soil, the focal species grew as well or better with a close relative as with a distant relative.

Darwin's hypothesis is supported by the greenhouse experiment in field soils but conflicts with the outcome found in potting soil. To learn why different soils produce opposite results requires more research.

However, the dependence of the outcome of competition on soils adds another parameter to consider when predicting what kinds of plants will be successful invaders, the researchers say.

The researchers also planted seeds of the 32 species in different habitats in the field at Bodega Bay Marine Reserve, Bodega Bay, Calif.

Seeds of each species were planted in four groupings, those dominated by plants: of the same species, the same genus, the same family, and by distant relatives.

Burns and Strauss found that seeds germinated and grew best during the first three months in habitats of plants of the same species and close relatives. The least successful were planted in habitats with distant relatives.

These results suggest that newcomers that are closely related to the native community should be more likely to succeed, the opposite of Darwin's naturalization hypothesis. Likely because closely related species have similar niches, the investigators said.

This suggests that the presence of close relatives may predict the success of a plant, potentially valuable information in the face of climate change.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Case Western Reserve University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jean H. Burns and Sharon Y. Strauss. More closely related species are more ecologically similar in an experimental test. PNAS, March 14, 2011 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1013003108

Cite This Page:

Case Western Reserve University. "Seedlings thrive with distant relatives, seeds with close family." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110314152906.htm>.
Case Western Reserve University. (2011, March 15). Seedlings thrive with distant relatives, seeds with close family. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110314152906.htm
Case Western Reserve University. "Seedlings thrive with distant relatives, seeds with close family." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110314152906.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins