Causes and consequences of sectoriality in the clonal herb Glechoma hederacea

Price, Elizabeth A C, Hutchings, Michael J and Marshall, Christopher (1996) Causes and consequences of sectoriality in the clonal herb Glechoma hederacea. Vegetatio, 127 (1). pp. 41-54. ISSN 0042-3106

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The causes of sectoriality and consequences for clone behaviour are examined using data from the stoloniferous herb Glechoma hederacea. The proximal causes of physiological integration patterns are investigated using anatomical studies, acid fuchsin dye to reveal patterns of xylem continuity between ramets, and as a label to reveal quantitative photoassimilate translocation patterns in the phloem. Dye movement in the xylem was acropetal and sectorial, and the sectoriality was determined by phyllotaxy. Patterns of -labelled photoassimilate allocation were qualitatively similar to those of xylem based resources, although there was some basipetal movement of photoassimilate. The patterns of physiological integration and independence between ramets are shown to be governed by rules which depend on vascular continuity and discontinuity between ramets. Physiological support to stolon apices results in acquisition of relative branch autonomy (branches become semi-autonomous integrated physiological units, IPUs). This paper evaluates whether observed physiological integration patterns may be modified by altering normal source-sink relationships or by modifying environmental conditions. An experiment using different defoliation intensities, and different defoliation patterns at the same overall intensity, demonstrated that the precise positions of leaves removed from a clone had unique consequences for its subsequent development. Individual ramets of a given clone may be located in microhabitats of differing quality. An experiment in which competition was either present or absent throughout the space occupied by the clone, or patchy in distribution, showed that G. hederacea did not respond to competition at the whole clone level. Instead, connected stolons (IPUs) responded independently to local competition. Sectoriality may promote the restriction of lethal, localised environmental factors within the affected IPU. A study investigating the uptake and translocation of zinc by clones revealed that quantified patterns of zinc distribution resembled patterns of movement in the phloem, and that there was no significant transport of zinc from one stolon to another. Although sectorial patterns of resource movement in G. hederacea can be modified in the short term, in the long-term, physiological integration may not allow this species to integrate the effects of environmental heterogeneity. A mobile clonal species with a high growth rate and relatively short-lived ramets, such as G. hederacea, is likely to benefit from a semi-autonomous response to patch quality at the level of the stolon, since the alternative of widespread intra-clonal support may increase the residence time of the clone in unfavourable patches.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Competition; Defoliation; Morphological plasticity; Physiological integration; Phytotoxic icons; Ramet Population dynamics
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Biology and Environmental Science
Depositing User: Michael Hutchings
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:39
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2012 10:13
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