American Journal of Botany
Previous work has shown that the contact inhibition that occurs among roots of Ambrosia dumosa shrubs has a self/nonself recognition capability. In the current study, we investigated some of the geographic and genotypic dimensions of this recognition capability by using root observation chambers to observe the effects of encounters of individual roots on root elongation rates. We measured such effects in encounters between roots of plants from the same region and compared these to effects in encounters between roots of plants from two different regions. We also measured effects of encounters between roots of plants from the same clones and compared these to effects of encounters of roots of plants from different clones. Roots of plants from the same region (population) showed the usual ''nonself'' precipitous decline in elongation rates following contact, but when roots of plants from different regions contacted each other, elongation rates continued unchanged. When roots of separate plants from the same clone contacted each other, the same ''nonself'' precipitous decline in elongation rates as seen in encounters between roots of plants of different clones from the same region occurred. Meanwhile, in these same experiments ''self'' contacts between sister roots connected to the same plants resulted in no changes in elongation rates. Thus, differences between individuals from two geographically separate populations of Ambrosia dumosa may be sufficient to thwart the ''nonself,'' population-level recognition of similarity apparently necessary for contact inhibition. Furthermore, the ''self'' recognition mechanism, which precludes contact inhibition between two roots on the same plant, appears to be physiological rather than genetic in nature.
See original published version at 10.2307/2445959.