Kin recognition, not competitive interactions, predicts root allocation in young Cakile edentula seedling pairs
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• Recent studies have demonstrated sibling vs stranger differences in group root allocation in plants, suggesting that plants have the potential for kin discrimination in competition. However, morphology differences could potentially be generated by competition-based mechanisms. Here, we tested these hypotheses for the sibling vs stranger differences in root allocation in Cakile edentula. • Seeds were planted in pairs of either kin (siblings) or strangers, from all combinations of eight families, to give eight kin (sibling) and 28 stranger pair identities. Because the species has a seed dimorphism, the 10 replicates of each pair identity included both seed types. Root allocation, size inequality between seedlings in a pair, and competitive ability were derived from measures of biomass and height. • Cakile edentula seedlings demonstrated the same kin recognition response previously observed in juvenile plants, with lower root allocation in kin pairs than stranger pairs. The seed dimorphism was not associated with root allocation. • The two competitive mechanisms, genetic differences in competitive ability and increased size inequality in stranger groups, did not explain the root allocation differences in these seedlings. Kin recognition offered the most probable explanation for the differences in root allocation between sibling and stranger pairs.
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