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Data from: Root:shoot ratio in developing seedlings: how seedlings change their allocation in response to seed mass and ambient nutrient supply

Citation

Mašková, Tereza; Herben, Tomas (2019), Data from: Root:shoot ratio in developing seedlings: how seedlings change their allocation in response to seed mass and ambient nutrient supply, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.67mg4q8

Abstract

1) Root:shoot (R:S) biomass partitioning is one of the keys to the plants' ability to compensate for limiting resources in the environment and thus to survive and succeed in competition. In adult plants, it can vary in response to many factors, such as nutrient availability in the soil or reserves in the roots from the previous season. The question remains whether, at the interspecific level, reserves in seeds can affect seedlings’ R:S ratio in a similar way. Proper allocation to resource-acquiring organs is enormously important for seedlings and is likely to determine their survival and further success. Therefore, we investigated the effect of seed mass on seedling R:S biomass partitioning and its interaction with nutrient supply in the substrate. 2) We measured seedling biomass partitioning under two different nutrient treatments after two, four, six and twelve weeks for seventeen species differing in seed mass and covering. We used phylogenetically informed analysis to determine the independent influence of seed mass on seedling biomass partitioning. 3) We found consistently lower R:S ratios in seedlings with higher seed mass. Expectedly, R:S was also lower with higher substrate nutrient supply, but substrate nutrient supply had a bigger effect on R:S ratio for species with higher seed mass. These findings point to the importance of seed reserves for the usage of soil resources. Generally, R:S ratio decreased over time and, similarly to the effect of substrate nutrients, R:S ratio decreased faster for large-seeded species. 4) We show that the seed mass determines the allocation patterns into new resource-acquiring organs during seedling development. Large-seeded species are more flexible in soil nutrient use. It is likely that faster development of shoots provides large-seeded species with the key advantage in asymmetric above-ground competition, and that this could constitute one of the selective factors for optimum seed mass.

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