The Balance Between Resource Sequestration and Retention: A Challenge in Plant Science

  • R. MatyssekEmail author
  • J. Koricheva
  • H. Schnyder
  • D. Ernst
  • J. C. Munch
  • W. Oßwald
  • H. Pretzsch
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 220)


Plants may encounter dilemma in resource allocation while serving concurrent internal functions. Trade-off in allocation is conceived to govern allocation into growth (ensuring competitiveness) versus defence of abiotic and biotic stress, and regulatory mechanisms are postulated to accomplish the respective balance. Concepts towards clarification are exemplified, such as theories on the “growth–differentiation balance (GDB)”, “carbon–nutrient balance”, “protein competition model” and “optimal defence”. Constraints and potential of theory development are highlighted, related to theory maturation, hypothesis formulation and study design, and to biological aspects relevant for ecologically meaningful experimentation. Challenges are to foster knowledge beyond (pseudo-)steady-state towards transitory stages in plant performance, mechanistically grounding plasticity in stress response while distinguishing resource-associated cost/benefit relationships in view of direct versus indirect defence costs. GDB possesses advanced framework quality in guiding spatio-temporal process scaling across ontogenetic stages and ecological scenarios. This review sets the introductory stage for the gain in knowledge presented in this book.


Resource Allocation Theory Development Phenotypic Plasticity Gross Primary Production Hypothesis Formulation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank “Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft” (DFG) for the support of research covered by the topic of this review through SFB 607 “Growth and Parasite Defence – Competition for Resources in Economic Plants from Agronomy and Forestry”. Comments on an early version of the manuscript by Dr. D. Herms are acknowledged. Stimulating discussions on the topic with Dr. U. Lüttge and inspiring suggestions by him on the manuscript are highly appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Matyssek
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. Koricheva
    • 2
  • H. Schnyder
    • 3
  • D. Ernst
    • 4
  • J. C. Munch
    • 5
  • W. Oßwald
    • 6
  • H. Pretzsch
    • 7
  1. 1.Chair of Ecophysiology of PlantsTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  2. 2.School of Biological Sciences, Royal HollowayUniversity of LondonEgham, SurreyUK
  3. 3.Lehrstuhl für GrünlandlehreTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  4. 4.Institute of Biochemical Plant BiologyHelmholtz Zentrum MünchenNeuherbergGermany
  5. 5.Institute of Soil EcologyHelmholtz Zentrum MünchenNeuherbergGermany
  6. 6.Phytopathology of Woody PlantsTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  7. 7.Chair of Forest Growth and Yield ScienceTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany

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