Plant Growth Regulation

, Volume 84, Issue 2, pp 333–339 | Cite as

Kin recognition in plants with distinct lifestyles: implications of biomass and nutrient niches

Original paper


Kin recognition has been demonstrated by plant biomass allocation and morphology traits as well as by nitrogen (N) uptake, but has not been examined from a nutrient-niche view yet. In this study, four species with distinct lifestyles, including Glycine max (L.) Merr. (herbaceous legume), Belamcanda chinensis (L.) DC. (herbaceous non-legume), Caesalpinia pulcherrima (L.) Sw. (woody legume), and Populus tomentosa (L.) Carr. (woody non-legume) were used to demonstrate kin recognition by estimating their biomass and allocation, as well as nutrient niches based on their uptake efficiency for N, phosphorus (P), sulfur (S), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and iron (Fe). For G. max, kin recognition was achieved by increased biomass, and by reduced nutrient-uptake efficiency of N, P, S, K, Ca, Mg, and Fe (decreased nutrient niches) to decrease nutrient competition among kin plants compared to the strangers. Although B. chinensis and C. pulcherrima had no biomass response, kin plants of B. chinensis increased, whereas C. pulcherrima decreased their S-uptake efficiency compare to strangers. Therefore, kin competition occurred in B. chinensis through increased nutrient niche whereas kin recognition occurred in C. pulcherrima through decreased nutrient niche. By comparison, P. tomentosa showed the co-occurrence of kin recognition and competition by increased root allocation and decreased P-uptake efficiency. These findings suggest that the biomass allocation and plant nutrient niches based on their nutrient-uptake efficiency can be used as potential parameters to identify kin recognition.


Biomass Nutrient niches Nutrient uptake efficiency Kin recognition Lifestyles 



We thanked Luyang Dong from China Internet Network Information Center for help looking after the plant seedlings. This study is supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (31470560).


  1. Aerts R, Chapin FS (2000) The mineral nutrition of wild plants revisited: A re-evaluation of processes and patterns. Adv Ecol Res 30:1–67Google Scholar
  2. Bais HP, Weir TL, Perry LG, Gilroy S, Vivanco JM (2006) The role of root exudates in rhizosphere interactions with plants and other organisms. Annu Rev Plant Biol 57:233–266CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Biedrzycki ML, Jilany TA, Dudley SA, Bais HP (2010) Root exudates mediate kin recognition in plants. Commun Integr Biol 3:1–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Biernaskie ML (2011) Evidence for competition and cooperation among climbing plants. Proc R Soc B 278:1989–1996CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Brooker RW, Kikvidze Z (2008) Importance: an overlooked concept in plant interaction research. J Ecol 96:703–708CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Buchanan BB, Gruissem W, Jones RL (2000) Biochemistry and molecular biology of plants. American Society of Plant Physiologists, RockvilleGoogle Scholar
  7. Caffaro MM, Vivanco JM, Botto J, Rubio G (2013) Root architecture of Arabidopsis is affected by competition with neighbouring plants. Plant Growth Regul 70:141–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Callaway RM, Mahall BE (2007) Family roots. Nature 448:145–146CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Cheplick GP (1992) Sibling competition in plants. J Ecol 80:567–575CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cheplick GP, Kane KH (2004) Genetic relatedness and competition in Triplasis purpurea (Poaceae): resource partitioning or kin selection? Int J Plant Sci 165:623–630CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chu CJ, Maestre FT, Xiao S, Weiner J, Wang YS, Duan ZH, Wang G (2008) Balance between facilitation and resource competition determines biomass-density relationships in plant populations. Ecol Lett 11:1189–1197CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. de Kroon H (2007) Ecology: how do roots interact? Science 318:1562–1563CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Dudley SA, File AL (2007) Kin recognition in an annual plant. Biol Lett 3:435–438CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Dudley SA, File AL (2008) Yes, kin recognition in plants! Biol Lett 4:69–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fang SQ, Clark RT, Zheng Y, Iyer-Pascuzzi AS, Weitz JS, Kochian LV, Edelsbrunner H, Liao H, Benfey PN (2013) Genotypic recognition and spatial responses by rice roots. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110:2670–2675CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. Fassel VA, Kniseley RN, Chem A (2008) Inductively coupled plasma: optical emission spectroscopy. Anal Chem 46(13):1110A–1120AGoogle Scholar
  17. File AL, Murphy GP, Dudley SA (2012) Fitness consequences of plants growing with siblings, reconciling kin selection, niche partitioning and competitive ability. Proc R Soc B 279:209–218CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Franco AA, de Faria SM (1997) The contribution of N2-fixing legumes to land reclamation and sustainability in the tropics. Soil Biol Biochem 29:897–903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Graves JH, Peet RK, White PS (2006) The influence of carbon & mdash; nutrient balance on herb and woody plant abundance in temperate forest understories. J Veg Sci 17(2):217–226Google Scholar
  20. Hamilton WD (1964) The genetical evolution of social behavior II. J Theor Biol 7:1–52CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Jukanti AK, Chibbar RN (2012) Gaur1 PM, Gowda1 CLL. nutritional quality and health benefts of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L): a review. Br J Nutr 108:S11–S26CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Kuzyakov Y, Xu X (2013) Competition between roots and microorganisms for nitrogen: mechanisms and ecological relevance. New Phytol 198(3):656–669CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Lepik A, Abakumova M, Zobel K, Semchenko M (2012) Kin recognition is density-dependent and uncommon among temperate grassland plants. Funct Ecol 26:1214–1220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Maathuis FJM (2009) Physiological functions of mineral macronutrients. Curr Opin Plant Biol 12(3):250–258CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Masclaux F, Hammond RL, Meunier J, Gouhier-Darimont C, Keller L, Reymond P (2010) Competitive ability not kinship affects growth of Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. New Phytol 185(1):322–331CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. McKane RB, Johnson LC, Shaver GR, Knute J, Nadelhoffer KJ, Rastetter EB, Fry B, Giblin AE, Kiellandk K, Kwiatkowski BL, Laundre JA, Murray G (2002) Resource-based niches provide a basis for plant species diversity and dominance in arctic tundra. Nature 415(3):68–70CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Milla R, Forero DM, Escudero A, Iriondo JM (2009) Growing with siblings, a common ground for cooperation or for fiercer competition among plants? Proc R Soc B 276:2531–2540CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Milla R, Velez del BA, Escudero A, Iriondo JM (2012) Kinship rivalry does not trigger specific allocation strategies in Lupinus angustifolius. Ann Bot 110:165–175CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Mo Y, Yang R, Liu L, Gu X, Yang X, Wang Y, Zhang X, Li H (2016) Growth, photosynthesis and adaptive responses of wild and domesticated watermelon genotypes to drought stress and subsequent re-watering. Plant Growth Regul 79(2):229–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Moreau D, Pivato B, Bru D, Busset H, Deau F, Faivre C, Matejicek A, Strbik F, Philippot L, Mougel C (2015) Plant traits related to nitrogen uptake influence plant-microbe competition. Ecology 96:2300–2310CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Murphy GP, Dudley SA (2009) Kin recognition: competition and cooperation in Impatiens (Balsaminaceae). Am J Bot 96:1990–1996CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Ninkovic V (2003) Volatile communication between barley plants affects biomass allocation. J Exp Bot 54:1931–1939CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Semchenko M, Saar S, Lepik A (2014) Plant root exudates mediate neighbour recognition and trigger complex behavioural changes. New Phyto 204:631–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Silvertown J (2004) Plant coexistence and the niche. Trends Ecol Evol1 9:605–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Simonsen AK, Chow T, Stinchcombe JR (2014) Reduced plant competition among kin can be explained by Jensen’s inequality. Ecol Evol 4(23)::4454–4466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Taiz L, Zeiger E (2006) Sunderland: sinauer associates. Plant Physiol pp:100–119Google Scholar
  37. Tilman D (1982) Resource competition and community structure. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  38. Tilman D (1988) Plant strategies and the dynamics and structure of plant communities. Monogr Popul Biol 26:1–360Google Scholar
  39. Tonsor SJ (1989) Relatedness and intraspecific competition in Plantago lanceolate. Am Nat 134:897–906CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Xu H, Liu C, Lu R, Guo G, Chen Z, He T, Gao R, Li Y, Huang J (2016) The difference in responses to nitrogen deprivation and re-supply at seedling stage between two barley genotypes differing nitrogen use efficiency. Plant Growth Regul 79(1):119–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Zarcinas BA, Cartwright B, Spouncer LR (1987) Nitric acid digestion and multi-element analysis of plant material by inductively coupled plasma spectrometry. Commun Soil Sci Plan 18(1):131–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zhang L, Liu Q, Tian Y, Xu X, Ouyang H (2016) Kin selection or resource partitioning for growing with siblings, implications from measurements of nitrogen uptake. Plant Soil 398(1–2):79–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Zhu L, Li Z, Ketola T (2011) Biomass concentrations and nutrient uptake of plants cultivated on artificial floating beds in China’s rural area. Ecol Eng 37(10):1460–1466CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural ResourcesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations