Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nothing to sneeze at: Scientists find cheating ragweed behaves better with its kin

Date:
October 1, 2012
Source:
McMaster University
Summary:
Cheating. Conflict. Competition. It may sound like a soap opera but this is the complex life of the despised ragweed plant. And in the highly competitive fight for nutrients, researchers have found ragweed will behave altruistically with its siblings, investing precious resources for the benefit of the group.

The ragweed plants.
Credit: Image courtesy of McMaster University

Cheating. Conflict. Competition. It may sound like a soap opera but this is the complex life of the despised ragweed plant.

And in the highly competitive fight for nutrients, researchers have found ragweed will behave altruistically with its siblings, investing precious resources for the benefit of the group.

A growing body of work suggests plants recognize and respond to the presence and identity of their neighbours and the findings, published online in the journal PLOS ONE, provide further evidence of the importance of family in preserving cooperation within and between species.

Specifically, researchers examined the mutually beneficial relationship between common ragweed, or Ambrosia artemisiifolia L., and mycorrhizal fungi.

In this relationship, the plant provides carbohydrates to the fungi which allow it to grow and colonize the soil. In return, the plant receives water, much-needed nutrients and protection from dangerous pathogens.

"The stability of this relationship can be compromised by cheaters," says Amanda File, a graduate student in the Department of Biology at McMaster University and lead author of the study.

"That happens because a single fungal network may interact with many plants, which creates opportunities for individuals to reap the rewards and the nutrients, without actually donating carbohydrates," she says.

In this study, researchers conducted two separate experiments to determine how social environment affects the plants' investment in the network. That is, whether the presence of family or strangers affects their behaviour.

When the ragweed was planted with its kin, the fungal network was larger -- implying greater costs to the plants -- but also creating greater benefits for them.

Moreover, increased fungal colonization of the roots was associated with a reduced number of root lesions caused by pathogens.

"If plant kin recognition is a real thing, we predict that social environment will affect many kinds of plant interactions," says Susan Dudley, an associate professor in the Department of Biology. "We have seen kin recognition for traits involved in plant competition and here we see that cooperation between species is certainly enhanced by altruism towards relatives."

The findings could have future implications for farming, she adds.

"Mycorrhizal fungi are now available commercially as soil additives for garden plants. And while conventional agricultural practices generally disrupt mycorrhizal fungi, there is potential for it to play an important role in sustainable farming by promoting growth naturally."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Amanda L. File, John Klironomos, Hafiz Maherali, Susan A. Dudley. Plant Kin Recognition Enhances Abundance of Symbiotic Microbial Partner. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (9): e45648 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045648

Cite This Page:

McMaster University. "Nothing to sneeze at: Scientists find cheating ragweed behaves better with its kin." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121001095039.htm>.
McMaster University. (2012, October 1). Nothing to sneeze at: Scientists find cheating ragweed behaves better with its kin. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121001095039.htm
McMaster University. "Nothing to sneeze at: Scientists find cheating ragweed behaves better with its kin." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121001095039.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Boy Attacked by Shark in Florida

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) An 8-year-old boy is bitten in the leg by a shark while vacationing at a Florida beach. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Dogs Appear To Become Jealous Of Owners' Attention

Newsy (July 23, 2014) A U.C. San Diego researcher says jealousy isn't just a human trait, and dogs aren't the best at sharing the attention of humans with other dogs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

Newsy (July 23, 2014) ​It's called I Know Where Your Cat Lives, and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world. Video provided by Newsy
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