Nitrogen, phosphorus, and light effects on reproduction and fitness of wild rice

Lee Sims, John Pastor, Tali Lee, Brad Dewey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Plant fitness is typically correlated with total seed biomass or the number of seeds produced per plant, but the connection from seed production to seedlings the following year is seldom made. Seedling production in grasses, including wild rice (Zizania palustris L.) is determined by the number of inflorescences produced, the number of seeds per inflores- cence, the mean mass per seed, proportion of seeds that are filled, predation on seeds, and germination rates. Previous stud- ies have shown that wild rice biomass production is limited primarily by nitrogen and secondarily by phosphorus and light. To test how nitrogen, phosphorus, and light modulate plant fitness, we evaluated the effects of nitrogen, phosphorus, and light on the above parameters. Nitrogen addition increased number of inflorescences, seeds per inflorescence, and mean seed mass, resulting in more seedlings produced, hence greater fitness, despite increased rice worm predation and lower ger- mination rates of seeds compared to seeds from plants grown without nitrogen addition. Phosphorus additions and full sun- light also increased the number of seedlings per plant, mainly after nitrogen was added. Therefore, the maternal environment not only affects seed production but the number of seedlings that emerge the following year, especially with re- spect to nitrogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)876-883
Number of pages8
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Maternal effects
  • Resource availability
  • Seed production
  • Seedlings
  • Zizania palustris


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