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Increased root oxygen uptake in pea plants responding to non-self neighbors

Meier, Ina Christin, Angert, Alon, Falik, Omer, Shelef, Oren, Rachmilevitch, Shimon
Planta 2013 v.238 no.3 pp. 577-586
Pisum sativum, carbon, gas exchange, leaves, oxygen, peas, photosynthesis, root growth, roots
Recent studies have demonstrated that plants alter root growth and decrease competition with roots of the same individual (self); however, the physiological traits accompanying this response are still widely unknown. In this study, we investigated the effect of root identity on gas exchange in the model species pea (Pisum sativum L.). Split-root plants were planted so that each pot contained either two roots of the same plant (self) or of two different plants (non-self), and the responses of biomass, photosynthesis, and respiration were measured. The photosynthetic rate was not affected by the identity of the root neighbor. We found a reduction of leaf dark respiration by half, accompanied by an increase in nocturnal root respiration by 29 % in plants neighboring with non-self. The activity of the alternative oxidase (AOX) pathway increased when plants responded to non-self neighbors. The increased activity of AOX in plants responding to non-self indicates carbon imbalances in roots, possibly as a consequence of increased root exudation and communication between individuals. If such an effect occurs more widely, it may change the assumptions made for the quantity of respiration as used in carbon budget models.