Kin recognition affects plant communication and defence

Richard Karban, Kaori Shiojiri, Satomi Ishizaki, William C. Wetzel, Richard Y. Evans

Abstract

The ability of many animals to recognize kin has allowed them to evolve diverse cooperative behaviours; such ability is less well studied for plants. Many plants, including Artemisia tridentata, have been found to respond to volatile cues emitted by experimentally wounded neighbours to increase levels of resistance to herbivory. We report that this communication was more effective among A. tridentata plants that were more closely related based on microsatellite markers. Plants in the field that received cues from experimentally clipped close relatives experienced less leaf herbivory over the growing season than those that received cues from clipped neighbours that were more distantly related. These results indicate that plants can respond differently to cues from kin, making it less likely that emitters will aid strangers and making it more likely that receivers will respond to cues from relatives. More effective defence adds to a growing list of favourable consequences of kin recognition for plants.

  • Received December 22, 2012.
  • Accepted January 22, 2013.
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