this has got to be one of my favorite pieces of research. eveh! (i’m so easily entertained.)

Kin recognition in an annual plant

“Kin recognition is important in animal social systems. However, though plants often compete with kin, there has been as yet no direct evidence that plants recognize kin in competitive interactions. Here we show in the annual plant Cakile edentula, allocation to roots increased when groups of strangers shared a common pot, but not when groups of siblings shared a pot. Our results demonstrate that plants can discriminate kin in competitive interactions and indicate that the root interactions may provide the cue for kin recognition. Because greater root allocation is argued to increase below-ground competitive ability, the results are consistent with kin selection.”

and it looks so innocent sitting there like it’s just minding its own business!:

update 05/03: see also more plants playing favorites

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