Effects of fertility, weed density and crop competition on biomass partitioning in Centaurea cyanus L.

Łukasz Chachulski, Sławomir Janakowski, Władysław Golinowski


The influence of environmental factors on biomass partitioning of annual arable weed Centaurea cyanus was analysed. We investigated the effect of fertilisation, density and competition with the winter rye crop on the reproductive investment. Three fertiliser treatments and three density levels were applied. In Centaurea cyanus differences in the pattern of biomass allocation to reproduction are related to plant size. The relationship between reproductive and vegetative mass is close to linear. It is consistent with the model of linear size-dependent reproductive output. In Centaurea cyanus this model worked well for size differences that have been generated by interspecific competition, nutrients supply and density. Our data support the hypothesis that plastic changes in relationship between vegetative and generative biomass are environmentally-induced. Significantly different relationship between vegetative and reproductive biomass were detected among populations growing at different density and fertility levels. The fertilisation with mineral fertiliser and manure resulted in an increase of generative biomass allocated to flowerheads and a decrease of reproductive effort. Generative dry weight increased more rapidly with plant size in higher densities of population and at lower fertility levels. The experiment showed that the rate of weight allocated to reproductive structures was bigger under the pressure of competition with cereal crop. At low fertility level and high density, when the individuals were small, generative biomass increased faster with plant size. The production of seeds was not directly dependent on biomass allocated into total reproductive structures. At low level, of nutrient supply C. cyanus gave more offspring per gram of its biomass. We discuss the results in context of life-history theory. From the strategic point of view, size-dependent variation in reproductive effort and in efficiency of reproduction can be interpreted as good tactics to favour high reproductive investment in small individuals, thus ensuring some offspring. Such a strategy is due to developmental constraints like short vegetation, the small amount of resources available and strong competition with crop.


annual weeds; efficiency of reproduction; phenotypic plasticity; reproductive effort

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