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Differential Response to Shading in Orthotropic and Plagiotropic Shoots of the Clonal Herb Glechoma hirsuta

Heidrum Huber and Michael J. Hutchings
Oecologia
Vol. 112, No. 4 (1997), pp. 485-491
Published by: Springer in cooperation with International Association for Ecology
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4221804
Page Count: 7
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Differential Response to Shading in Orthotropic and Plagiotropic Shoots of the Clonal Herb Glechoma hirsuta
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Abstract

Previous studies have shown that internodes and petioles of closely related erect and stoloniferous species show marked differences in their response to shading. Vertical structures show strong elongation responses while horizontal structures show significantly smaller elongation responses. This paper reports an experiment designed to test whether internodes and petioles on orthotropic (vertically oriented) and plagiotropic (horizontally oriented) shoots produced by the same plant, also show such differential responses. The study species, Glechoma hirsuta, produces plagiotropic shoots in its vegetative stage and orthotropic shoots during its generative stage. Shoots of G. hirsuta were grown either in full daylight or under simulated canopy shade. Internode and petiole elongation, biomass investment patterns and other growth-related parameters were measured on plants in each light treatment. In orthotropic shoots the length of internodes responded more strongly to shading than the length of petioles, while the opposite was true for plagiotropic shoots, confirming the hypothesis that vertical spacers have higher degrees of shade-induced plasticity than horizontally oriented spacers. Growth and development of horizontally oriented shoots was reduced by shading, whereas that of vertically oriented shoots was unaffected by light treatment. The results are discussed in terms of the differences in function of vertically and horizontally oriented spacers, and the probable benefits of plasticity in enhancing essential activities including photosynthesis, habitat exploration and seed dispersal.

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