Effects of physical connection and genetic identity of neighbouring ramets on root-placement patterns in two clonal species


Author for correspondence: Marina Semchenko Tel: +372 7376389 Fax: +372 7376222 Email: marina.semchenko@ut.ee


  • • Root-placement patterns were examined in the clonal species Glechoma hederacea and Fragaria vesca when grown with different types of neighbours. Three different patterns were predicted as consequences of different types of interactions between roots: the avoidance pattern if root growth decreases in the presence of neighbouring roots; the intrusive pattern if root growth increases towards neighbouring roots; and the unresponsive pattern if root growth is unaffected by neighbouring roots.
  • • Experiments were conducted in which physical connection between ramets, and the genetic identity of neighbouring ramets, were manipulated. The patterns of distribution of entire root systems and elongation rates of individual roots were measured.
  • • Root systems and individual roots of G. hederacea avoided contact with roots of neighbouring ramets, irrespective of connection to the neighbour and its genetic or specific identity. In contrast, F. vesca roots grew equally towards and away from intraspecific ramet neighbours and their elongation was stimulated by contact with roots of G. hederacea ramets.
  • • These results demonstrate that root-placement patterns of plants grown with different types of neighbours vary between species, and suggest that factors additional to resource depletion could be involved in their development.