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Ecological Research

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 617–625 | Cite as

Photosynthetic response of Fragaria orientalis in different water contrast clonal integration

  • Yunchun Zhang
  • Qiaoying Zhang
  • Peng Luo
  • Ning Wu
Original Article

Abstract

The capacity to exchange resources and non-resource agents is one of the most outstanding features of clonal plants. Contrast between patches in a heterogeneous environment is the main external driving force behind integration effects. It was hypothesized, on the basis of the source–sink hypothesis, that assimilate demand from drought-stressed ramets will result in enhancement of the photosynthesis of well-watered ramets by a mechanism of feedback regulation, that the negative effect of drought on the photosynthesis of drought-stressed ramets will be ameliorated by physiological integration, and that these effects will be enhanced by increasing contrast. A pot experiment was conducted with clonal fragments consisting of two interconnected ramets of Fragaria orientalis. In the experiment, both the connected and the disconnected clonal fragments were divided into three water contrast groups: (1) homogeneous (no contrast) group; (2) low-contrast group; (3) high-contrast group. The photosynthesis and stress tolerance of drought-stressed ramets did not decrease under the support of well-watered ramets when they were connected, allowing clones to maintain their performance in less favorable environments. But the photosynthesis and stress tolerance of drought-stressed ramets decreased with increasing drought-stress when stolons were disconnected. With a feedback regulation process, the photosynthesis of well-watered ramets connected to drought-stressed ramets was enhanced by the latter, which can compensate, at least partially, for the cost of maintaining the stressed ramets. Drought-stressed ramets gained more benefits in a high-contrast environment than in a lower-contrast environment; this can enhance the survival of drought-stressed ramets in unfavorable habitats, especially stressed patches that would otherwise be unexploitable by independent ramets. But photosynthesis of well-watered ramets did not increase with increasing water availability contrast. It can be concluded that photosynthesis and stress tolerance of F. orientalis was affected by clonal integration and by contrasts of water availability.

Keywords

Clonal plant Physiological integration Drought Heterogeneous environment 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are very grateful to two anonymous reviewers and Dr Liang Yu for their valuable suggestions on manuscript improvement. This research was financially supported by the Important Directional Project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KSCX2-YW-418), key project of the Chinese Academy of Sciences knowledge innovation program (KZCX2-XB2-02), National Natural Science Foundation of China (40671181), and the key project of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (90511008).

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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yunchun Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Qiaoying Zhang
    • 3
  • Peng Luo
    • 1
  • Ning Wu
    • 1
  1. 1.Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of SciencesChengduPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Shandong Institute of Light IndustryJinanPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of BiocontrolSun Yat-Sen UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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