Plants are altruistic too
- Elections 2014 LIVE: Thousands join Narendra Modi as he begins roadshow ahead of filing nomination from Varanasi
- Modi to Cong: Just 20 days more...Will take revenge
- SC to frame rules to snip govt ads
- Donât allow regional parties to contest LS polls: Chavan
- Elections 2014 Phase 6 LIVE: Modi urges youngsters to vote; Medha Patkar alleges money distribution by parties
Dogs caring for orphaned kittens or chimps sharing food are all examples of animal altruism. Now, a study led by the University of Colorado Boulder suggests some plants are altruistic too.
The researchers looked at corn, in which each fertilized seed contained two "siblings" -- an embryo and a corresponding bit of tissue known as endosperm that feeds the embryo as the seed grows, CU-Boulder Professor Pamela Diggle said.
They compared the growth and behavior of the embryos and endosperm in seeds sharing the same mother and father with the growth and behavior of embryos and endosperm that had genetically different parents.
"The results indicated embryos with the same mother and father as the endosperm in their seed weighed significantly more than embryos with the same mother but a different father," Diggle, a faculty member in CU-Boulder's ecology and evolutionary biology department said.
"We found that endosperm that does not share the same father as the embryo does not hand over as much food -- it appears to be acting less cooperatively," she said.
Diggle said that it is fairly clear from previous research that plants can preferentially withhold nutrients from inferior offspring when resources are limited.
"One of the most fundamental laws of nature is that if you are going to be an altruist, give it up to your closest relatives," co author Professor William "Ned" Friedman, a professor at Harvard University who helped conduct research on the project while a faculty member at CU-Boulder said.
"Altruism only evolves if the benefactor is a close relative of the beneficiary. When the endosperm gives all of its food to the embryo and then dies, it doesn't get more altruistic than that," he added.
The team took advantage of an extremely rare phenomenon in plants called "hetero-fertilization," in which two different fathers sire individual corn kernels, Diggle, currently a visiting professor at Harvard said.
- ANF official accused of killing youth a gallantry award winner
- Maharashtra: Poor turnout till 9 am in third phase of polling
- Hyderabad blast 2013: Agencies hunt for Mangalore ‘source’
- Police raids Giriraj Singh's home to arrest him for hate remarks
- Main accused in hawala racket has underworld links: Police
- Sindhu, Kashyap advance, Srikanth exits early at Asian C’ships