Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1086/675063
Title (Primary) Adaptive and selective seed abortion reveals complex conditional decision making in plants
Author Meyer, K.M.; Soldaat, L.L.; Auge, H.; Thulke, H.-H.
Journal American Naturalist
Year 2014
Department BZF; OESA
Volume 183
Issue 3
Page From 376
Page To 383
Language englisch
Keywords plant behavior; selective abortion; seed predation; parasite; Monte Carlo simulations; Rhagoletis meigenii; Berberis vulgaris
UFZ wide themes RU5
Abstract Behavior is traditionally attributed to animals only. Recently, evidence for plant behavior is accumulating, mostly from plant physiological studies. Here, we provide ecological evidence for complex plant behavior in the form of seed abortion decisions conditional on internal and external cues. We analyzed seed abortion patterns of barberry plants exposed to seed parasitism and different environmental conditions. Without abortion, parasite infestation of seeds can lead to loss of all seeds in a fruit. We statistically tested a series of null models with Monte Carlo simulations to establish selectivity and adaptiveness of the observed seed abortion patterns. Seed abortion was more frequent in parasitized fruits and fruits from dry habitats. Surprisingly, seed abortion occurred with significantly greater probability if there was a second intact seed in the fruit. This strategy provides a fitness benefit if abortion can prevent a sibling seed from coinfestation and if nonabortion of an infested but surviving single seed saves resources invested in the fruit coat. Ecological evidence for complex decision making in plants thus includes a structural memory (the second seed), simple reasoning (integration of inner and outer conditions), conditional behavior (abortion), and anticipation of future risks (seed predation).
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Meyer, K.M., Soldaat, L.L., Auge, H., Thulke, H.-H. (2014):
Adaptive and selective seed abortion reveals complex conditional decision making in plants
Am. Nat. 183 (3), 376 - 383