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Host shoot clipping depresses the growth of weedy hemiparasitic Pedicularis kansuensis

Abstract

Root hemiparasitic plants show optimal growth when attached to a suitable host by abstracting water and nutrients. Despite the fact that damage to host plants in the wild occurs frequently in various forms (e.g. grazing), effects of host damage on growth and physiological performance of root hemiparasites remain unclear. In this study, host shoot clipping was conducted to determine the influence of host damage on photosynthetic and growth performance of a weedy root hemiparasite, Pedicularis kansuensis, and its interaction with a host, Elymus nutans. Photosynthetic capacity, tissue mineral nutrient content and plant biomass of P. kansuensis were significantly improved when attached to a host plant. Host clipping had no effect on quantum efficiency (ΦPSII), but significantly reduced the growth rate and biomass of P. kansuensis. In contrast, clipping significantly improved photosynthetic capacity and accumulation of potassium in E. nutans. No significant decrease in biomass was observed in clipped host plants. By changing nutrient absorption and allocation, clipping affected the interaction between P. kansuensis and its host. Our results showed that host clipping significantly suppressed the growth of weedy P. kansuensis, but did not affect biomass accumulation in E. nutans. We propose that grazing (a dominant way of causing host damage in the field) may have a potential in the control against the weedy hemiparasite.

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Acknowledgments

We are grateful to the anonymous referees for valuable feedback on an earlier draft. We thank Ms. Yanxia Jia and Mr. Faqing Tao from Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, for their excellent help with using MAXI-Imaging PAM. We also thank Mr. Xiaojian Hu and Mr. Yongquan Ren for their inspiring discussion for writing up the paper. The research was financially supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31370512, No. 31400440 and U1303201), Natural Science Foundation of Yunnan Province (Grant No. 2009CD114), and a fund from The Youth Innovation Promotion Association of Chinese Academy of Sciences for Airong Li.

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Correspondence to Ai-Rong Li.

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Sui, XL., Huang, W., Li, YJ. et al. Host shoot clipping depresses the growth of weedy hemiparasitic Pedicularis kansuensis . J Plant Res 128, 563–572 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10265-015-0727-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10265-015-0727-6

Keywords

  • Chlorophyll fluorescence
  • Host-parasite interaction
  • Parasitic weed
  • Root hemiparasitic plant
  • Weed control