Competitive ability not kinship affects growth of Arabidopsis thaliana accessions


Authors for correspondence:
Laurent Keller
Tel: +41 21 692 41 73
Philippe Reymond
Tel: +41 21 692 42 29


  • In many organisms, individuals behave more altruistically towards relatives than towards unrelated individuals. Here, we conducted a study to determine if the performance of Arabidopsis thaliana is influenced by whether individuals are in competition with kin or non-kin.
  • We selected seven pairs of genetically distinct accessions that originated from local populations throughout Europe. We measured the biomass of one focal plant surrounded by six kin or non-kin neighbours in in vitro growth experiments and counted the number of siliques produced per pot by one focal plant surrounded by four kin or non-kin neighbours.
  • The biomass and number of siliques of a focal plant were not affected by the relatedness of the neighbour. Depending on the accession, a plant performed better or worse in a pure stand than when surrounded by non-kin plants. In addition, whole-genome microarray analyses revealed that there were no genes differentially expressed between kin and non-kin conditions.
  • In conclusion, our study does not provide any evidence for a differential response to kin vs non-kin in A. thaliana. Rather, the outcome of the interaction between kin and non-kin seems to depend on the strength of the competitive abilities of the accessions.