There is limited knowledge on how variation in plastic responses plays a role in determining plant competitiveness. To address this issue, Bongers et al. combine experimentations and simulation modelling to test competitiveness for light in Arabidopsis thaliana growing in dense stands.
Plant plasticity was represented by changes in leaf angle and petiole elongation in response to R:FR signals, which are typical shade avoidance responses. Results showed that differences in competitiveness may arise between genotypes with only marginally different plastic responses, suggesting that there could have been strong selection for fine-tuning the sensitive shade avoidance responses found in plants.
This paper is part of the Annals of Botany Special Issue on Functional-Structural Plant Growth Modelling. It will be free access until June 2018, then available only to subscribers until April 2019 when it will be free access again.
Bongers, F. J., Pierik, R., Anten, N. P. R., & Evers, J. B. (2017). Subtle variation in shade avoidance responses may have profound consequences for plant competitiveness. Annals of Botany, 121(5), 863–873. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcx151