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Nutrients and disturbance history in two Plantago species: maternal effects as a clue for observed dichotomy between resprouting and seeding strategies


  • Vít Latzel,

  • Tomáš Hájek,

  • Jitka Klimešová,

  • Sara Gómez

V. Latzel (, T. Hájek and J. Klimešová, Inst. of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Dukelská 135, CZ–379 82 Třeboň, Czech Republic. – S. Gómez, Tufts Univ., Biology Dept, 120 Dana Building, Medford, MA 02155, USA.


We assessed the role of nutrients and disturbance experienced by mothers (maternal effects) in the growth of progeny in a pot experiment using two Plantago species. Photosynthetic capacity, biomass allocation and fecundity were measured. Offspring of plants grown in nutrient poor conditions produced more leaves, spikes and longer leaves and in case of P. lanceolata, they had also higher photosynthetic capacity. The progeny of P. media mothers that had resprouted after disturbance was favored in nutrient poor conditions whereas the progeny of undisturbed plants was favored in nutrient rich conditions.

This study demonstrates that maternal effects may play a role in the success of either a seeding or a resprouting strategy in environments with different nutrient availability. Moreover, we showed that alteration of photosynthetic capacity, even during adult stages, is a mechanism through which maternal plants may impact their progeny.