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Ann Bot. 2005 Jun;95(7):1211-20. Epub 2005 Mar 24.

Applicability and limitations of optimal biomass allocation models: a test of two species from fertile and infertile habitats.

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1
Nikko Botanical Garden, Graduate School of Science, University of Tokyo, Nikko, Tochigi 321-1435, Japan. osone@ffpri.affrc.go.jp

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS:

The practical applicability of optimal biomass allocation models is not clear. Plants may have constraints in the plasticity of their root : leaf ratio that prevent them from regulating their root : leaf ratio in the optimal manner predicted by the models. The aim of this study was to examine the applicability and limitations of optimal biomass allocation models and to test the assumption that regulation of the root : leaf ratio enables maximization of the relative growth rate (RGR).

METHODS:

Polygonum cuspidatum from an infertile habitat and Chenopodium album from a fertile habitat were grown under a range of nitrogen availabilities. The biomass allocation, leaf nitrogen concentration (LNC), RGR, net assimilation rate (NAR), and leaf area ratio (LAR) of each species were compared with optimal values determined using an optimal biomass allocation model.

KEY RESULTS:

The root : leaf ratio of C. album was smaller than the optimal ratio in the low-nitrogen treatment, while it was almost optimal in the high-nitrogen treatment. In contrast, the root : leaf ratio of P. cuspidatum was close to the optimum under both high- and low-nitrogen conditions. Owing to the optimal regulation of the root : leaf ratio, C. album in the high-nitrogen treatment and P. cuspidatum in both treatments had LNC and RGR (with its two components, NAR and LAR) close to their optima. However, in the low-nitrogen treatment, the suboptimal root : leaf ratio of C. album led to a smaller LNC than the optimum, which in turn resulted in a smaller NAR than the optimum and RGR than the theoretical maximum RGR.

CONCLUSIONS:

The applicability of optimal biomass allocation models is fairly high, although constraints in the plasticity of biomass allocation could prevent optimal regulation of the root : leaf ratio in some species. The assumption that regulation of the root : leaf ratio enables maximization of RGR was supported.

PMID:
15790584
PMCID:
PMC4246905
DOI:
10.1093/aob/mci133
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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