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Size-dependent growth and the development of inequality in maize, sunflower and soybean

Vega, C.R.C., Sadras, V.O.
Annals of botany 2003 v.91 no.7 pp. 795-805
Zea mays, Helianthus annuus, Glycine max, soybeans, plant growth, growth habit
Links were investigated between allometry of plant growth and dynamics of size structure of well-fertilized, irrigated crops of soybean (Glycine max L.), sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.) and maize (Zea mays L.) grown at standard plant-population densities (D), as in commercial crops (D = 30, 6 and 8 5 plants m-2, respectively), and at high densities (2D). Patterns of size-dependent growth of shoot and seed mass accumulation were distinctly different among species. In soybean and sunflower, non-linear relationships between size and subsequent growth led to strong hierarchical populations in terms of both shoot and seed biomass. Curvilinear (soybean) and sigmoid (sunflower) size-dependent growth determined strongly asymmetrical (soybean) and bimodal (sunflower) frequency distributions of shoot biomass indicating predominantly size asymmetrical competition among individuals. In comparison, a lower plant-to-plant variation coupled with a typical linear allometry of growth to plant size indicated symmetrical two-sided plant interference in maize. Despite the weak development of hierarchies in shoot biomass, a strong inequality in reproductive output developed in crowded populations of maize indicating an apparent breakage of reproductive allometry.