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Clonal integration supports the expansion from terrestrial to aquatic environments of the amphibious stoloniferous herb Alternanthera philoxeroides.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Plant biology (Stuttgart, Germany)
Publication Date
Volume
11
Issue
3
Pages
483–489
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1111/j.1438-8677.2008.00133.x
PMID: 19470119
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Effects of clonal integration on land plants have been extensively studied, but little is known about the role in amphibious plants that expand from terrestrial to aquatic conditions. We simulated expansion from terrestrial to aquatic habitats in the amphibious stoloniferous alien invasive alligator weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides) by growing basal ramets of clonal fragments in soils connected (allowing integration) or disconnected (preventing integration) to the apical ramets of the same fragments submerged in water to a depth of 0, 5, 10 or 15 cm. Clonal integration significantly increased growth and clonal reproduction of the apical ramets, but decreased both of these characteristics in basal ramets. Consequently, integration did not affect the performance of whole clonal fragments. We propose that alligator weed possesses a double-edged mechanism during population expansion: apical ramets in aquatic habitats can increase growth through connected basal parts in terrestrial habitats; however, once stolon connections with apical ramets are lost by external disturbance, the basal ramets in terrestrial habitats increase stolon and ramet production for rapid spreading. This may contribute greatly to the invasiveness of alligator weed and also make it very adaptable to habitats with heavy disturbance and/or highly heterogeneous resource supply.

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