Cluster root-bearing Proteaceae species show a competitive advantage over non-cluster root-bearing species

Fajardo A.; Piper F.I.

Abstract

Background and aims Cluster roots (CRs) constitute a special root adaptation that enables plants to take up nutrients, especially phosphorus (P), from soils with low nutrient availability, including recent volcanic deposits. It is unclear, however, how CR species interact with non-cluster root-bearing (NCR) species, and how substrates' fertility modulates potential interactions. Methods We experimentally assessed the net interaction between CR and NCR species using two substrates of contrasting fertility: nutrient-rich nursery mix and tephra (low P availability). We planted seedlings of two southern South American (SSA) Proteaceae, CR species and two NCR Nothofagus species in pairs (conspecifics and heterospecifics) and as singles. We analysed the effect of seedling neighbours on survival, growth performance (e.g. total biomass and leaf area) and leaf and substrate nutrient concentrations (including manganese, a proxy for P-acquisition efficiency through CR activity) using the relative interaction index. Key Results After three growing seasons, we found that (1) Proteaceae species had fewer CRs and lower CR biomass and grew less in the tephra than in the nursery substrate; (2) Nothofagus species did not improve their survival and growth in the presence of Proteaceae species in any substrate; (3) contrary to Nothofagus, Proteaceae species improved their growth more when planted with any neighbour (including conspecifics) than when planted alone, which was accompanied by a significant accretion of leaf P; and (4) the presence of a neighbour increased the final nitrogen and P concentrations in the nursery substrate, regardless of species identity. Conclusions CRs provide Proteaceae a competitive advantage over NCR species at the seedling stage, which may have important consequences for species coexistence and community structuring. The investigated SSA Proteaceae, which have not evolved in nutrient-impoverished soils, as have their relatives in south-western Australia and South Africa, improve their growth when cultivated in pairs, especially in nutrient-rich substrates.

Más información

Título según WOS: Cluster root-bearing Proteaceae species show a competitive advantage over non-cluster root-bearing species
Título según SCOPUS: Cluster root-bearing Proteaceae species show a competitive advantage over non-cluster root-bearing species
Título de la Revista: ANNALS OF BOTANY
Volumen: 124
Número: 6
Editorial: OXFORD UNIV PRESS
Fecha de publicación: 2019
Página de inicio: 1121
Página final: 1131
Idioma: English
DOI:

10.1093/aob/mcz128

Notas: ISI, SCOPUS