Intraspecific competition is an important plant interaction that has been studied extensively aboveground, but less so belowground, due to the difficulties in accessing the root system experimentally. Recent in vivo and in situ automatic imaging advances help understand root system architecture. In this study, a portable imaging platform and a scalable transplant technique were applied to test intraspecific competition in Arabidopsis thaliana. A single green fluorescent protein labeled plant was placed in the center of a grid of different planting densities of neighboring unlabeled plants or empty spaces, into which different treatments were made to the media. The root system of the central plant showed changes in the vertical distribution with increasing neighbor density, becoming more positively kurtotic, and developing an increasing negative skew with time. Horizontal root distribution was initially asymmetric, but became more evenly circular with time, and mean direction was not affected by the presence of adjacent empty spaces as initially hypothesized. To date, this is the first study to analyze the patterns of both vertical and horizontal growth in conspecific root systems. We present a portable imaging platform with simplicity, accessibility, and scalability, to capture the dynamic interactions of plant root systems.
|State||Published - Dec 2017|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Acknowledgments: This work is funded by an NSF Information and Intelligent Systems grant (Award# 1238125) that was awarded to Qiang Cheng. Marisa Blake Szubryt was supported by the Undergraduate Research Assistantship (UGA) program at SIUC in 2015–2016, and Xian Liu by a Graduate Research Assistantship through the SIUC Environmental Resources and Policy program. The authors wish to thank the four undergraduate students, Jacob Gerfen (2012–2013), Robert Higgins (2013–2014), Jesse Kays (2014–2015) and Kelsey Reed (2015–2016), for their assistance in imaging roots. They were supported by the SIUC Undergraduate Research Assistantships.
© 2017 by the authors.
- Arabidopsis thaliana
- Conspecific root
- Root system
- Skewness and kurtosis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science