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Tree Physiol. 1997 Mar;17(3):161-8.

Evidence for red:far red signaling and photomorphogenic growth response in Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) seedlings.

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  • 1The George R. Staebler Forest Resources Center, Weyerhaeuser Company, Centralia, WA 98531, USA.


In a greenhouse experiment, potted coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) seedlings were grown in miniature "Nelder" (Nelder 1962) plots where growing space varied from 265 to 2555 cm(2) per plant. After thirty weeks, mean plant height, crown biomass and branch number increased significantly (P = 0.0141) with decreasing growing space (increasing plant density). Differences in height growth became apparent about six weeks after sowing. Furthermore, horizontally reflected radiation measured within the Nelder plots showed a decrease in red:far-red ratio (R:FR) from 1.2 at the lowest density to 0.71 at the highest. Plant height was strongly inversely correlated with estimated phytochrome photoequilibrium values (r(2) = 0.893). Field measurements made in a three-year-old variable density plantation also showed a decrease in R:FR with increasing planting density from 300 to 3,000 trees ha(-1). These results support the hypothesis that young Douglas-fir seedlings are able to detect, through the phytochrome system, the presence of nearby seedlings owing to the depletion of R relative to FR in the spectra reflected by the foliage of the adjacent plants. They then adjust their growth allometry in a way that reduces the possibility of being over topped by these future competitors.

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