Adrienne Nicotra, Rana Munns, Will Cornwell
In this section we will consider growth analysis, leaf production and expansion, stem and height growth, source-sink relations and reproductive ecology.
Growth analysis is a conceptual framework for resolving the nature of genotype by environment interactions on plant growth and development.
In natural environments, growth and development cycles have to be completed within a time frame dictated by environmental conditions where light, moisture and nutrients often limit expression of genetic potential. Adaptive features that counter such constraints and help sustain relative growth rate can be revealed via growth analysis under contrasting conditions. Crop and horticultural plants experience similar restrictions, but in addition their economic yield is often only a small portion of total biomass at harvest and subject to internal (genetic) control. Whole-plant growth analysis is therefore of interest to those concerned with determinants of yield from crop plants growing singly or as communities.
Accordingly, in their quest for improved genotypes, crop scientists need to explore plant growth and reproductive development in quantitative terms. Sources of variation in productivity can then be resolved into those processes responsible for converting external resources into biomass and those responsible for partitioning biomass into usable sinks such as cereal ears or pumpkins (Plants in Action, Chapter 6).
Principles of population and growth analysis can also be extended to study leaf production and leaf expansion, and stem diameter and height growth.
We have included reproductive ecology here in the growth section as well. Reproductive ecology here includes patterns of allocation to reproduction as well as aspects of pollination biology and seed and seedling ecology.
Reference: Plants in Action: http://plantsinaction.science.uq.edu.au/edition1/