Modelling the relationship between sexual reproduction and rhizome growth in Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile


S. Calvo
Dipartimento di Scienze Botaniche,
Via Archirafi 38, 90123 Palermo, Italy.


The relationship between flowering and growth performance of Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile in meadows distributed along the south-eastern coast of Sicily (Italy) was investigated by means of a statistical model (generalized linear mixed model) combined with the lepidochronological analysis. Over a 28-year period, 67 floral stalk remains were observed. The highest flowering index was recorded in lepidochronological year 1998 (10.1%) and the Inflorescence Frequency per age showed a clear decrease corresponding to 15-year-old shoots. The sexual reproductive event had positive effects on rhizome elongation (cm year−1) and leaf production (no. leaves year−1) in the same flowering year, whilst no effect on the rhizome production (mg year−1) was observed. Rhizome growth variables showed significant negative lagged responses in the two years following flowering. On the whole, we calculated that the effect exerted by flowering, in terms of loss on rhizome elongation and production, was about 27% and 38%, respectively. Although it has been demonstrated that recovery from the stress induced by sexual reproduction is limited to the two years after flowering, the magnitude of the reproductive cost may become quite considerable especially in comparison with the whole lifespan of individual shoots.