Some plants grow bigger — and ‘meaner’ — when clipped

You would think that a plant would either produce a lot of defensive chemicals to prevent it from being eaten or that it would put its energy into regrowing after being eaten — but not both, given its limited energy,” said graduate student Miles Mesa, who led the research with University of Illinois animal biology professor Ken Paige. “But we found that the plants that overcompensated — with higher reproductive success after having been damaged — also produced more defensive chemicals in their tissues.”

About 90 percent of herbaceous flowering plants engage in a process called endoreduplication — duplicating all of the genetic material in their cells without cell division, the researchers said. This process increases cell size, allowing the plants to quickly rebound from damage.

Each round of endoreduplication doubles a cell’s output. Having twice as many active genes means the cell can pump out more proteins needed to perform cellular tasks.

Some plants multiply their genomes again and again in response to being browsed. One example is scarlet gilia, a red-flowered plant that grows in western North America and is browsed by elk and mule deer. Paige is studying its responses to being eaten.

“We’re seeing two- and three-fold increases in yield after it has been cut — in the same season,” he said.

Some plants grow bigger — and ‘meaner’ — when clipped, study finds — ScienceDaily


Plant Species Diversity Improves Soil Ecosystems. [Rant]

Plant species diversity doesn’t improve soil

The above quote was left as a reply to a comment I’d left on a big ag research and education industry video talking about cover crops ages ago. It still irks me that these people are so ignorant.

Today I read the following study on plant species diversity’s impact on soil ecosystems, albeit in a conservation and restoration context that ends up restoring degraded agricultural lands these people create:

Restoring and managing for more diverse plant communities can improve recovery of belowground biology and functioning in predictable ways. Specifically, we found greater accumulation of roots, more predictable recovery of soil microorganisms (bacteria and fungal biomass), more rapid improvement in soil structure (less compaction), and less nitrogen available for loss from the system  in prairie restored and managed for high plant diversity (>30 species) relative to the low diversity (<10 species) grassland plantings.  Thus, the hypothesis that biodiversity promotes ecosystem functioning is relevant to large-scale conservation and restoration practices on the landscape.

Restoration and management for plant diversity enhances the rate of belowground ecosystem recovery