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Potential and constraints for grasses to cope with spatially heterogeneous radiation environments

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Placing plant organs into upper canopy layers or gaps is considered advantageous for avoiding neighbours. Current research only covers the lack of selective branching in response to heterogeneous radiation in dicots. Due to some unique shade avoidance regulatory pathways and clonal structure, directional response may occur in grasses. I used Festuca rubra L., a grass with two types of branches: intravaginal tillers developed from young buds close to the primary shoot, and extravaginal tillers developed from older buds and placed on rhizomes in a certain distance from the mother tussocks. Tussocks grown from vegetativelly multiplied initial tillers were exposed to three radiation regimes in two green-house experiments: full sunlight, full shading simulating canopy and heterogeneous radiation. Interaction of the treatments with orientation of the initial tillers relative to their mother tillers, which may constrain morphology of the developing tussocks, were studied. Even though shading decreased the number of intravaginal tillers, heterogeneous radiation did not influence direction of their outgrowth. However, shading activated dormant buds at the tussock base and thus stimulated extravaginal tillering, with a tendency to develop more extravaginal tillers towards the shaded sites.

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I am grateful to Věra Rydlová, Lída Mikovcová, Karin Kottová and Klára Čámská for technical assistance. My thanks are also due to my colleagues, mainly to Franta Krahulec, Zuzana Münzbergová, Tomáš Herben and Jan Wild and anonymous reviewers for valuable comments on the manuscript. Language revision by Robert Tanner is appreciated as well. The study was partly financed from grants Nr. IAB6005107, IAA600050820 and AV02 60050516 of GAAVČR.

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Correspondence to Hana Skálová.

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Skálová, H. Potential and constraints for grasses to cope with spatially heterogeneous radiation environments. Plant Ecol 206, 115 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-009-9628-x

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  • Shade avoidance
  • Clonal growth
  • Festuca rubra
  • R/FR ratio
  • Tillering