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Clonal segmentation - the development of physiological independence within stolons of Glechoma hederacea L. (Lamiaceae)

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 20:29 authored by Michael Hutchings
The youngest parts of clonal plants benefit from substantial physiological support from older parts, but the extent to which this physiological dependence persists through time is poorly understood. The development of autonomy among connected subunits was therefore analysed in the clonal species Glechoma hederacea. The stolons of a series of clonal fragments with differing numbers of primary ramets were severed at a fixed point relative to the four oldest primary ramets. The subsequent growth of both parts of the severed fragments was compared with that of a series of intact fragments. The growth of apical stolon portions that included five or more rooted primary ramets at the time of severing was unaffected by severing. Apical portions with three or fewer rooted ramets at the time of severing produced fewer new primary ramets than equivalent parts of intact fragments, while apical portions with four or fewer rooted ramets produced less above-ground mass than equivalent apical portions of intact clonal fragments. Basal portions of clonal fragments severed when there were one or two rooted ramets in the apical portion produced more secondary ramet mass than equivalent parts of intact fragments. The gain in mass of secondary ramets in the basal portions of severed fragments matched the reduction in mass of secondary ramets in the apical portions. However, severing caused an overall loss of mass when apical portions had three or fewer rooted ramets at the time of severing, because the mass of primary ramets in basal portions did not increase following severing. Severing had little impact on the allometry of the apical portions. The relationship between mass in secondary ramets and mass in primary ramets was similar in the apical portions of severed and intact clonal fragments. None of the severing treatments increased the total mass of secondary ramets, suggesting that apical dominance in this species only affects branches very close to the apex. These observations, combined with existing knowledge of vascular architecture in G. hederacea, demonstrate that, whether or not physical connections persist between ramets, growing stolons rapidly develop into physiologically autonomous segments. This may be a characteristic of species that exploit disturbed, spatially heterogeneous habitats through rapid multiplication of ramets connected by long, aerial runners or stolons.


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  • Published


Plant Ecology




Springer Verlag





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  • Biology and Environmental Science Publications

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