Sunflowers found to share nutrient-rich soil with others of their kind | 5/10/2019 | Staff
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A team of researchers at the University of Alberta has found that sunflower plants send fewer roots into nutrient-rich patches of soil when another sunflower is attempting to access the same patch. In their paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group describes their study of neighborly location in sunflowers, and what they learned from it.

To humans, plants seem isolated in their existence. Even though they may grow in groups, they do not seem to interact or even acknowledge the existence of other plants around them. But prior research has shown that plants do react to one another, most often underground, where it cannot be observed. In this new effort, the researchers have found that individual sunflower plants are aware of other sunflower plants, and sometimes behave in ways that benefit them both rather than simply fending for themselves.

Experiments - Sunflower - Plants - Lab - Environment

The experiments consisted of monitoring sunflower plants in a lab environment under variable conditions. All of the conditions involved how the plants "behaved" when encountering a particularly nutrient-rich patch of soil.

In the first study, the researchers placed isolated sunflower plants near a rich food source and watched how it behaved. As expected,...
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