Figuring out how plants recognize each other

There’s no sibling rivalry in the plant world, according to research by Susan Dudley at McMaster University in Hamilton and now confirmed by scientists at the University of Delaware.

Studies using Arabidopsis thaliana, a wild plant commonly used in research, show that the plants don’t try to compete with others of their type when side by side. Put them beside plants of other species and families, however, and roots grow in a very different way as they compete for nutrients and water. In addition, leaves of plant “siblings’” will intertwine while non-siblings grow rigidly upright and avoid touching.

Better Farming - December 2009