Ethylene and plant neighbour detection
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This thesis aims to elucidate the putative role of ethylene in plant responses to neighbours during competition for light. For this purpose, shade avoidance responses to neighbours of ethylene-insensitive tobacco plants are repeatedly compared with their wild-type counterparts. The thesis consists of a description of the involvement of ethylene in shade avoidance responses and a test of the competitive consequences. It further aims to identify the mechanisms through which ethylene acts in plant responses to neighbours. This thesis will first show that ethylene is important for above-ground plant responses to neighbour plants. The consequences of this ethylene-involvement in shade avoidance for competitive ability are shown in competition experiments with wild-type and ethylene-insensitive tobacco (chapter 2). The effects of the reduced plasticity to neighbours for size distributions in canopies of different plant densities are described in chapter 3. Chapter 4 aims to identify to what extent ethylene is required for morphological responses to low R/FR ratios. The interaction of ethylene with gibberellins in these phytochrome-mediated responses are further investigated in chapter 5. Putative neighbour detection signals other than the R/FR ratio are described in chapter 6, which also includes the relevance of ethylene-sensing for plant responses to those signals. Finally, all results are briefly summarised and then further discussed in chapter 7, which also proposes a model for the action of ethylene in plant competition
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