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Science. 1990 Jan 19;247(4940):329-32.

Far-red radiation reflected from adjacent leaves: an early signal of competition in plant canopies.


When individual seedlings of Datura ferox and Sinapis alba were transferred to populations formed by plants of similar stature, they responded with an increase in the rate of stem elongation. The reaction was detected within 3 days after transplanting and occurred well before shading among neighbors became important. This rapid response, which may be crucial for success in the competition for light, was reduced or abolished when individual internodes were "blinded" to the far-red radiation scattered by the surrounding seedlings. These results show the operation of a localized, photomorphogenetic control of stem elongation that may play a central role in the plastic adjustment of plants during the early stages of canopy development.

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