, Volume 134, Issue 1, pp 72-77

Root cooperation in a clonal plant: connected strawberries segregate roots

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The ability to selectively avoid competition with members of the same clone should be highly advantageous but has not been demonstrated in plants. We found that physical connection between plants in a clone of the wild strawberry Fragaria chiloensis induced them to segregate their roots, significantly increasing clonal performance. Such increase in performance was not found when plants were grown in containers that artificially divided their rooting zones. There was no effect of connection in a different clone of F. chiloensis with a lower degree of carbon transport between connected plants, suggesting that the mechanism for root segregation depended upon transport of a signal through the strawberry runners. We suggest that clonal integration allows some clones to coordinate below-ground resource foraging with other clone members, thus exhibiting a type of root cooperation.

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