Abstract Detail


Sicangco, Camille Kilayko [1], Bavdekar, Salil [1], Subhash, Ghatu [1], Putz, Francis E. [1].

Active space garnering by leaves of a rosette plant.

Near ground growth offers low-statured plants a host of benefits, but simultaneously exposes them to the risk of being overtopped and losing access to sunlight. Plant community development is often portrayed as a process of serial dominance by successively taller species, but we discovered a mechanism by which a low-statured plant alters community spatial structure. Leaves of Elephantopus elatus (Asteraceae), an herbaceous pine savanna plant with a basal rosette, push neighboring plants away and thereby avoid being overtopped. Elephantopus leaves pushed plastic cantilevers with median forces of 0.018 N, sufficient to bend over 20 ryegrass seedlings, as determined through a series of greenhouse experiments. Rather than passively accepting local conditions, this light-demanding species actively manipulates its neighborhood. Pushing is possible because the leaves are centrally anchored, rather than attached to swayable twigs. Previous studies of interplant spacing by mechanical forces focused on abiotically-generated forces or growth-mediated forces exerted against abiotic obstacles. Growth-mediated leaf pushing introduces a novel example of active plant interactions that is likely important for other rosette plants in open-canopied ecosystems.

Related Links:
Current Biology online article [to be published 4/25/22]

1 - University of Florida

form and function
growth form
plant-plant interactions
pine savanna.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number: EC04001
Abstract ID:771
Candidate for Awards:None

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