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Albinism in relation to competition in bamboo Phyllostachys bambusoides

Naturevolume 266pages527529 (1977) | Download Citation



THE ecological consequences of albinism in plants have not been investigated, although the phenomenon has been considered by physiologists, geneticists and cytologists1–7. Production of albino offspring generally reduces parental reproductive value, because albinos die after seed reserves are depleted, and thus do not reproduce. This negative effect can be moderated if a recessive allele for albinism confers increased fitness in the heterozygous state8–13. I present here a hypothesis that, in species producing dense stands of seedlings subject to interspecific competition, albino offspring can confer a competitive advantage to photosynthetic siblings; the reduction in parental fitness due to albinism may thus be less than predicted on the basis of reduced number of offspring. A test using bamboo (Phyllostachys bambusoides) supports this proposal.

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  1. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Box 2072, Balboa, Canal Zone, Panama

  2. Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104



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