Effects of physical space and nutrients on the growth and intraspecific competition of a floating fern
Physical space, defined by its volume and shape, is considered a resource for plant growth, as a plant can be limited by physical space even when other resources (e.g., light, water and nutrients) are unlimited. However, the effect of physical space limitation on intraspecific competition of plants, especially floating plants, is not well understood. Here we tested the hypothesis that physical space affects the growth and intraspecific competition of floating plants, which is further influenced by the volume and surface area of the containers in which these plants are grown. We grew either one or four clonal fragments of a floating clonal fern, Azolla imbricata, in cylindrical containers differing in diameter and height (and thus surface area and volume) and filled with solutions containing the same or different nutrient concentrations. Biomass and number of clonal fragments of A. imbricata were higher in the container with the larger diameter and thus water surface area, but were not significantly affected by the height/volume of the container. Biomass and number of clonal fragments were reduced by intraspecific competition and tended to increase first and then decreased with increasing nutrient concentration. Increasing nutrient concentration inhibited the growth and then reduced intraspecific competition of A. imbricata, but the diameter or height/volume of the container had no effect. Our findings suggest that nutrient levels can alter intraspecific competition of plants, but physical space may not.
KeywordsAquatic plant Azolla imbricate Clonal plant Container type Density effect
We thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on an early version of the manuscript. Funding was provided by the National Key R&D Program of China (2016YFC1201101) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31570413).
- Al-Menaie HS, Al-Ragam O, Al-Dosery N, Zalzaleh M, Mathew M, Suresh N (2012) Effect of pot size on plant growth and multiplication of water lilies (Nymphaea sp.). Am Eur J Agric Environ Sci 12:148–153Google Scholar
- Cai ZP, Li YX, Duan SS, Zhu HH (2014) Effects of container and light on the cell growth of two microalgae. J Guangdong Pharm Univ 30:583–586Google Scholar
- Grams TEE, Lüttge U (2010) Space as resource. Prog Bot 26:349–370Google Scholar
- Hoagland DR, Arnon DI (1950) The water-culture method for growing plants without soil. Calif Agric Exp Stn Circ 347:357–359Google Scholar
- Li XF (2014) The influence on the growth of tree peony by different volume and different type of containers. M.sc thesis, Henan University of Sciences and Technology, LuoyangGoogle Scholar
- Liu ZZ, Zheng WW (1989) Azolla in China. China Agriculture Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
- Wang P, Xu YS, Dong BC, Xue W, Yu FH (2015) Effects of clonal fragmentation on intraspecific competition of a stoloniferous floating plant. Plant Biol 16:1121–1126Google Scholar
- Yang X, Chen YD, Li DM (2000) Effect of container size on growth and yield of Brassica oleracea L. Guangdong Agric Sci 3:19–21Google Scholar
- Yi HY (2013) The nitrogen and phosphorus absorption effect of Azolla imbricata in different nitrogen, phosphorus concentrations, temperature. M.sc thesis, Hunan Agricultural University, ChangshaGoogle Scholar
- Zhang XW, Zhang R, Wang RJ, Zhang CD, Zang YN, Wang FF, Zhao YB, Sun FF, Sha WL (2017) Effect of SDS, Cr6+ on physiological and biochemical indices of Azolla imbricata. J Qufu Norm Univ 43:71–80Google Scholar