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The Allocation of Minerals to Seeds in Senecio Vulgaris Plants Subjected to Nutrient Shortage

M. Fenner
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 74, No. 2 (Jun., 1986), pp. 385-392
DOI: 10.2307/2260262
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2260262
Page Count: 8
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The Allocation of Minerals to Seeds in Senecio Vulgaris Plants Subjected to Nutrient Shortage
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Abstract

(1) This experiment was to determine how parental nutrient shortage affects the allocation of specific nutrients to seeds in Senecio vulgaris, a short-lived monocarpic plant. (2) Plants were grown from seed, and supplied with Hoagland's nutrient solution at five concentrations: 100% (control), 80%, 60%, 40% and 20%. Biomass allocation to reproductive and vegetative parts was determined, and analysis for N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Fe and S carried out on seeds and shoots. Seeds from field-grown plants from three contrasting soils were also analysed chemically. (3) Relative biomass allocation to reproduction remained constant in spite of large differences in total plant weight. (4) The seeds were largely buffered from the differences in parental nutrient status. Seeds from the field-grown plants gave broadly similar results to those from greenhouse plants. (5) K, Ca and Fe were consistently less concentrated in the seeds than in the shoots. N, P and S were consistently more concentrated in the seeds. Mg was more concentrated in the seeds only in the three treatments with the lowest nutrient supply. (6) The fraction of the plant's total content of any one element which was allocated to its seeds varied widely. In plants on 100% Hoagland solution, it ranged from 4% of total K to 38% of total P. In the most nutrient-deprived plants it ranged from 2.5% of total Fe to 52% of total P. (7) In contrast to the constant proportional allocation of biomass to the seeds, the allocation of minerals to them increased with nutrient shortage (except in the case of iron). (8) The results are discussed in relation to the question of the most appropriate currency in which to measure reproductive allocation in plants.

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