Architectural plasticity in a Mediterranean winter annual

Hagai Shemesh, Benjamin Zaitchik, Tania Acuña, Ariel Novoplansky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Size variability in plants may be underlain by overlooked components of architectural plasticity. In annual plants, organ sizes are expected to depend on the availability and reliability of resources and developmental time. Given sufficient resources and developmental time, plants are expected to develop a greater number of large branches, which would maximize fitness in the long run. However, under restrictive growth conditions and environmental reliability, developing large branches might be risky and smaller branches are expected to foster higher final fitness. Growth and architecture of Trifolium purpureum (Papilionaceae) plants from both Mediterranean (MED) and semi-arid (SAR) origins were studied, when plants were subjected to variable water availability, photoperiod cues and germination timing. Although no clear architectural plasticity could be found in response to water availability, plants subjected to photoperiod cuing typical to late spring developed fewer basal branches. Furthermore, plants that germinated late were significantly smaller, with fewer basal branches, compared with plants which grew for the same time, starting at the beginning of the growing season. The results demonstrate an intricate interplay between size and architectural plasticities, whereby size modifications are readily induced by environmental factors related to prevalent resource availability but architectural plasticity is only elicited following the perception of reliable anticipatory cues.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)492-501
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Signaling and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2012


  • Branch order
  • Developmental decisions
  • Developmental hierarchies
  • Developmental plasticity
  • Developmental time
  • Environmental information

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science


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